By Alexandra Burlacu | Jan 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST
Amazon may soon employ a new strategy called "anticipatory shipping," which, as the name suggests, would ship out packages before customers order them.
We've already heard of Amazon's plans of package delivery via drones, but the retail giant is apparently considering other methods to speed up shipping times.
This "anticipatory shipping" process is based on a patent Amazon filed back in December with the USPTO. Simply put, this process would ship out packages before you even get to place your order.
Amazon has lots of data on consumer habits, and that's no big surprise. According to the patent, "anticipatory shipping" would use Amazon's data to ship items to a delivery hub in a specific area, where the company expects demand for said items to be extensive, although customers have not ordered them yet. Amazon would determine whether to ship an item to a hub based on previous orders from that area, as well as some other factors. Once an item shipped to the hub is actually ordered and paid for, Amazon would simply redirect the package to the customer, thus significantly reducing shipping times.
It's worth pointing out that Amazon will not ship you any items before you've ordered them. You will not receive random packages on your doorstep. The packages will ship out to a central location near you.
The decision to ship certain packages to such a central location will be based on wish lists, product searches, shopping cart contents, previous orders, and other such factors, for a specific area. Assuming that this data accurately reflects what consumers in a particular area could order from Amazon, this "anticipatory shipping" strategy could prove to be an important step forward. Receiving your desired package from a nearby storage hub would drastically reduce shipping times, as your order would have been already shipped and just waiting to be redirected.
In conclusion, Amazon's "anticipatory shipping" process would not send you items that you have not ordered. It would simply deploy packages to specific geographical areas, and once a customer in that area places an order that matches a nearby item, the package would then be redirected from the hub to the intended recipient.