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Get it before you buy it: Amazon patents 'anticipatory package shipping'

Published time: January 19, 2014 01:01
A parcel moves on the conveyor belt at Amazon's logistics centre (Reuters / Michaela Rehle)

A parcel moves on the conveyor belt at Amazon's logistics centre (Reuters / Michaela Rehle)

Retail giant Amazon is revolutionizing the way online purchases are made, with a new patent scheme that would see items shipped out, before the customer buys them.

On Christmas eve, Amazon patented the “anticipatory package shipping” process which is expected to expedite shipments through sending specific items to distribution centers near those customers who the company expects to buy them in the near future. The destination will be based on a number of “business variables”, including customer’s purchase history, wish lists, saved searches, and general search data.

The patent anticipates the new delivery system in the following way:

Firstly one or more items will be packed as a “package for eventual shipment to a delivery address” without specifying the delivery address but only the “destination geographical area.” And then while the package is in transit the system will specify the exact delivery address, when the customer purchases the item.

The patent also describes “speculatively shipping” scenarios for the delivery destinations as well as how to re-route parcels based on proximity of potential buyers, claiming that packages could remain in continuous transit on trucks until a customer decides to make a purchase.

Work is carried out at Amazon's new fulfilment centre (Reuters / Russell Cheyne)

“Speculative shipping of packages may enable more sophisticated and timely management of inventory items, for example by allowing packages to begin flowing towards potential customers in advance of actual orders,” the patent says.

If the behavior purchasing pattern fails, Amazon could deliver the package anyway to build customer loyalty as a gift to someone who might like it.

It’s not the first time the retail giant has tried to revolutionize its delivery system. In December the company announced plans to use ‘octocopter’ mini-drones to deliver goods to US customers in just 30 minutes. The company said drones will be able to deliver packages that weigh up to 5lbs (2.3kg), which represents roughly 86 percent of packages that Amazon delivers.

Comments (25)


Dot 22.01.2014 04:08

Amazon pushed real hard to pass a mandatory online sales tax in order to put the small timers like e-Bay out of business. Amazon doesn't want to share business. They want it all for themselves.


Rak on 22.01.2014 01:35

Olivier Oberholzer 19.01.2014 15:53

Let's do this with food supply, power supply to give an end to this crazy corrupted financial system and political oligarchy...


But they will still take money out of your bank account, even if it's not there. You could end up with huge list of bank overcharge in your account that you cannot afford.


Rak on 22.01.2014 01:32

Hello, Murica! 21.01.2014 09:28

This is a pretty good idea. I order TONS of stuff of Amazon. I'll have to add some stuff to my wishlist ($15,000+ camera lenses, super-expensive videocameras, etc.) Who knows, maybe they'll deliver something to me to build my loyalty. :)


I would like to get to know the details more. But I imagine this Amazon scheme would charge a penalty like Paypal if you don’t have the money in the bank. In your case, you will end up with 15k overcharge in your bank account , and then Amazon and the bank will penalize you!

View all comments (25)
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