Wikimedia Commons / Kcdtsg

Amazon Wants To Ship You Packages Before You Order Them

Amazon recent filed a patent for an "anticipatory shipping" system that would use customer data to predict which products Amazon users will buy next.

By Matt Picht | January 18, 2014

Amazon's gathered so much data from its customers by this point that it can now apparently predict the future. The online retailer is reportedly considering a system to ship packages to its customers before they actually order them.

The Wall Street Journal just uncovered a patent filed by Amazon back in December for what the company's calling "'anticipatory shipping' ... a method to start delivering packages even before customers click 'buy.'" 

Amazon's patented system essentially tries to predict which items you'll order next, based on your previous orders, wish lists, page views and even cursor activity. Those packages then get shipped to your general location, where they wait around in warehouses or trucks for you to order them. (Via U.S. Patent Office)

The Verge notes this is all part of Amazon's recent push to cut down delivery times. The company recently announced a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays.

And of course, back in December Amazon touted its delivery drones concept, promising delivery times in under 30 minutes for small objects.

Having your next Amazon order sitting in a nearby warehouse could dramatically speed up deliveries. But what happens if Amazon's system guesses wrong?

Gizmodo points out Amazon's patent suggests the company might offer its customers errant items at a discount — or even give them away for free — rather than returning the packages to where they came from. "The patent calls this 'a promotional gift ... to build goodwill.' We call it creepy ... but kind of awesome."

The patent doesn't mention when, or if, Amazon will start implementing this new system. A company rep declined to comment on the patent.

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