Amazon.com has gained a patent for “anticipatory shipping,” whereby the online retailer would begin the shipping process for items based on wish lists or previous shopping habits, even before shoppers have actually bought them.
Using an algorithm based on the admittedly vast trove of customer data it already has, the Seattle-based retailer says the method could help meet its ongoing goal of cutting delivery times.
Amazon did not say whether it had tested, or even polled or focus group-tested, its newly patented service.
Like last year’s drone-based shipping idea, “anticipatory shipping” seems more of a giddy “what-if” possibly meant to keep competitors on their toes. Mailing out orders before they’re made sounds like something that could result in customer irritation as easily as satisfaction, and could take some of the fun out of shopping. In any case, there’s no indication yet from consumers whether this is something they’d really want.