Jan. 27: Amazon has filed a patent for technology that will predict what people will buy and deliver packages — before customers have clicked the purchase button.
The world’s largest online retailer calls the new system “anticipatory shipping” and sees it as a way to eliminate the major disadvantage that Internet sellers have compared with physical stores: the delay between buying an item and receiving it.
According to Amazon’s patent, the company will use an array of factors, such as previous purchases, items customers have searched for, and even the amount of time a user’s cursor hovers over a product, in order to predict what purchases a person may make.
Using this information, Amazon will send these predicted items to a nearby “hub” or local warehouse. This would mean that when a person actually clicks to buy merchandise on the website, their chosen item will be housed closer to the buyer’s address. This will allow a package to be delivered within minutes or hours, rather than the days and weeks it currently takes.
The company’s patent filing reads: “One substantial disadvantage to the virtual storefront model is that in many instances, customers cannot receive their merchandise immediately upon purchase, but must instead wait for product to be shipped to them. “The availability of expedited shipping methods from various common carriers may mitigate the delay in shipment, but often at substantial additional cost that may rival the price paid for the merchandise. Such delays may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants, particularly if hose items are more readily available locally.”