Late last year Amazon wowed consumers with the promise of same-day delivery using drones. The project is still years off and there are many questions for Amazon to answer before drone delivery could ever become real. In the meantime Amazon has a new idea that, while much less glamorous than drones, could have the potential to affect Amazon's distribution more than flying packages.
A new Amazon patent has surfaced showing that the world's largest internet retailer now wants to ship packages before they are ordered. The patent would anticipate what products a consumer may order and then ship it toward their nearest Amazon distribution center. The method would then confirm the final address of the order during the shipping process, should the customer actually order the product.
The "anticipatory package shipping" method would take many factors into account when predicting what products a consumer may buy. As stated in the patent, Amazon would look at what websites consumers are viewing and how long, link mouse hover times, shopping cart contents, and wish list activity when deciding what products to pre-ship. Customer engagement with marketing and salespeople would also be taken into account.
Amazon's distribution network is highly efficient, but shipping concerns remain one of the only competitive weaknesses internet retailers have against more traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Next-day shipping prices are expensive and big-box retailers allow customers the sort of instant-gratification internet shopping does not. Pre-shipping packages could help reduce shipping times and put further pressure on stores such as Barnes & Noble and Best Buy.