New Amazon Idea: Ship Your Item Before You Order It

'Anticipatory shipping' system in the works

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 20, 2014 12:57 AM CST | Updated Jan 20, 2014 6:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Can Amazon see into the future? The firm is betting that it can predict shoppers' needs so precisely that it can start shipping orders before they have even been placed. A patent filed by the retail giant last month outlines "anticipatory shipping," in which products will be boxed and shipped to specific areas based on what it thinks consumers will want, slashing delivery times, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amazon says its predictions will be based on factors including wish lists, previous searches, and even how long a user's cursor lingers over an item. The speculative system doesn't mean people are going to start receiving surprise packages from Amazon, but it should significantly reduce waiting times when users order items shipped near their area, Engadget explains. And if users do receive unwanted packages, Amazon may offer a discount or make the item a gift. "Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill," the patent says. The company is also working on an even more innovative way to reduce wait times—delivery drones.

Ready-to-ship items move along a conveyor belt at an Amazon warehouse.
Ready-to-ship items move along a conveyor belt at an Amazon warehouse.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
A worker scans bar codes in the book warehouse area at the Amazon.com shipping and receiving facility in Fernley, Nevada.
A worker scans bar codes in the book warehouse area at the Amazon.com shipping and receiving facility in Fernley, Nevada.   (AP Photo/Scott Sady, File)
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