For some people, having an item shipped to the doorstep a whole day after they spent a few minutes searching for it online and clicking “checkout” just isn’t convenient enough. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), the largest online retailer, may have the answer with a new patent for “anticipatory shipping” that will send products before a user even purchases them.
If successful, anticipatory shipping could eliminate one of the few remaining advantages that brick-and-mortar shops have over Amazon.
Using the massive amount of customer data it collects from searches, purchases, wish lists and even how long a customer hovers over an item with a mouse, Amazon will predict which products will be popular in different areas. The Seattle-based company will then package and ship those items to its hubs in those areas. According to The Verge, Amazon could even load products onto trucks and ship them to a physical address without having an actual addressee.
Amazon is aware that this could lead to unwanted deliveries, but it states in the patent that it is willing to eat these losses to build goodwill with customers. The company could give products away as promotional gifts, or offer them to someone in a nearby area at a discounted rate.
There isn’t an indication of when Amazon would start using anticipatory shipping, but the company has introduced other initiatives recently to cut down on delivery times. In November, Amazon announced a new deal with the United States Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in December that Amazon was experimenting with a drone-based delivery service.