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Transportation Businesses Patents

Amazon: We Can Ship Items Before Customers Order 243

Posted by timothy
from the attn-estate-of-philip-k-dick dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has obtained a patent for 'anticipatory shipping,'' and claims it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed. The technique could cut delivery time and discourage consumers from visiting physical stores. In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases 'may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.' Of course, Amazon's algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift. 'Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,' the patent said. Considering the problems that can arise when shipping something a customer did not order anticipatory shipping has the potential to backfire faster than an Amazon drone can deliver."
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Amazon: We Can Ship Items Before Customers Order

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  • by Sven-Erik (177541) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:22PM (#46007259)
    Well, as long as they will not bill me before I have ordered I have no problems with this...
    • by dhanson865 (1134161) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:25PM (#46007273)

      Nope they won't charge you, the article says the items are held at a local level waiting for a matching order to show up before it knows where/who to deliver to so the billing process isn't predictive, just the inventory/distribution/shipping is.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:35PM (#46007355)

        Nope they won't charge you, the article says the items are held at a local level waiting for a matching order to show up before it knows where/who to deliver to so the billing process isn't predictive, just the inventory/distribution/shipping is.

        Yes, to the surprise of nobody, another badly written headline is a terrible summary. All distribution chains do this already -- What Amazon has patented is a particular set of data mining methods in the hope that it will result in a slight increase in efficiency in this process.

        Of course, to anyone who's studied caching problems in CSci... this patent would be almost painfully obvious. It's the same thing we've been doing in computers since, erm... the 80286 days. But when you're a large company in America, the rules don't really apply to you.

        • by schlachter (862210) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:49PM (#46007455)

          It's pretty different from a standard caching operation.

          It's more like a massively parallel distributed caching operation where the act of caching something removes it from the original data source until it is uncached, and where latency is at least a day or two and cost is very high.

          The real innovation is knowing what to cache with enough confidence to act on it...with a granularity of a single customer.

          • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:02PM (#46007517)

            ...with a granularity of a single customer.

            They don't need granularity to a single customer. If Amazon can find 100 people in a city that have a 50% chance of ordering a product, then they can pre-ship 50 to that city's local distribution center. Then when approx. half of them actually place their orders, most of them will get it quickly, even though Amazon didn't know precisely which people would actually order. This will work better with more popular items, where the hits and misses are more likely to even out.

          • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:20PM (#46007625)

            It's pretty different from a standard caching operation.

            Okay... and your argument for this is...

            It's more like a massively parallel distributed caching operation where the act of caching something removes it from the original data source until it is uncached, and where latency is at least a day or two and cost is very high.

            So it's the same predictive logic used for caching, except it takes longer, and it has a queue hung on the side. I don't call that "pretty different" from a structural standpoint. "Pretty different" for me would be the difference between a predictive caching algorithm and, say, TCP/IP flow control algorithms, which also try to be predictive, but have very different constraints.

            Either way, this is neither an unusual, innovative, or in any way exceptional application of decades-old algorithms and information processing engineering. It should not be patentable, and that was my point... not quibbling over whether it's "slightly" different or "pretty" different... to qualify for a patent, it must be truly groundbreaking, not merely taking existing formulas and process and adapting it.

            • Did you read the article at all? Because no you didn't. Here's just a bit that makes this different from what you describe, apart from all of the other things that make it different. In particular, you never have a bit somewhere that is advertised to be available in the future and have devices anticipate it, in remotely the same way as release day music, books, or movies:

              Amazon said the predictive shipping method might work particularly well for a popular book or other items that customers want on the day t

              • by N1AK (864906)

                We know you don't like patents. But please have a point to argue next time. Would an on die cache tell the CPU it fetched some predictive instructions that it doesn't need but might like?

                Don't some browsers pre-fetch pages they think you are likely to visit? Don't some operating systems load programs into RAM before you ask for them to decrease loading times?

                I know they aren't the same mechanism that he was suggesting but at the same time I'm not really sure how this is innovative. Hell some speciality s

        • by temcat (873475) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:02PM (#46007515)

          It's the same thing we've been doing in computers since, erm... the 80286 days.

          Refreshingly, at this time, the novelty will be in the fact that it is NOT on the computer!

          • by russotto (537200)

            Refreshingly, at this time, the novelty will be in the fact that it is NOT on the computer!

            Indeed. On that note, I've just submitted a patent application for a method for scheduling elevator cars in a multi-elevator building. It's based on well-known hard disk array head scheduling algorithms.

        • by TheGavster (774657) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:22PM (#46007633) Homepage

          There is still room for novelty in solving a traditional, well-explored CS problem in the physical space, largely because the cost of operations is different. In a computer, quicksort is the accepted way to sort data without foreknowledge of how it is mixed. Sorting railcars using quicksort would be a terrible idea because you can't swap arbitrary cars in constant time (https://www.americanscientist.org/issues/issue.aspx?id=369&y=0&no=&content=true&page=5&css=print). In this case, Amazon may well have developed a novel caching scheme that is efficient in the space of their distribution network, which likely has a different topography than the memory of a 286.

        • by jd2112 (1535857)

          But when you're a large company in America, the rules don't really apply to you.

          Sure they do, Just a different set of rules.

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "Yes, to the surprise of nobody, another badly written headline is a terrible summary. All distribution chains do this already"

          Even my local bar gets all sorts of booze delivered before I even order a single drink.
          They keep even more of it in a special location in the backroom.

      • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:36PM (#46007361) Homepage Journal

        So lets put some bulky, heavy things in our shopping carts and on our wish lists and really mess with Bezos for a few weeks.

      • Amazon has already been doing this a little. One time they sent me a printer cartridge and some baby wipes that I never ordered. I asked them what I should do with them and they said to just keep it. The baby wipes actually had sunscreen so I used them on myself while cycling last summer, and the printer ink I gave to staples for a $80 store credit, which I then used to get a free soda stream. It was actually pretty great!

      • Is that why that creepy van's been parked at the end of my driveway for a week?

  • I can forgo ordering from them and keep what they send me for free.

    It's the law. :)

  • Yes, please start shipping me items i did not request.. I like free stuff coming to my house.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Just think of all the free mail and e-mail you get without ever asking for it. More! Calling it junk mail and spam is just being abusively hurtful.

    • It's all fun and games until they ship you the lingerie you were checking out one late night and it is a different size than your wife's.

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:28PM (#46007291)
    Tell Amazon that while smoking weed might be great, but that the ideas you get while baked aren't often that good.

    Dood! Like wouldn't it be like awesome if we could like invent this like really cool time machine and like go to the future to see like what people have bought, and then like go back to when these people like sat down at their computers to think about buying something, and like it shows up right then! They'll like think its like magic!

    Dood! that's frikken awesome! Now where's my goddamn Fritos!

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:41PM (#46007389)

    I seem to recall McDonalds started doing this 20 or 30 years a go, although obviously not to the level of analyzing the orders of individual customers. But basically they studied patterns of how much of each menu item is ordered, parsed by location and time of day, so that when you walk in the Filet o' Fish you're about to order is already cooking.

    Other fast food vendors have since followed suit, as have big box retailers.

    It's basically a specific application of "just in time" inventory practices that's being adapted to Amazon's business model. Definitely smart, but I'm not sure it should be patentable.

    • McDonalds used to give you a hard time if you wanted your food a different way.

      Other places push fresh food not food that has been sitting under a heat lamp.

    • by pipedwho (1174327)

      Definitely smart, but I'm not sure it should be patentable.

      I'd go as far as saying it should definitely not be patentable. This is the most obvious embodiment of a typical just-in-time manual practice "on a computer".

      Any patent awarded should err on the side of invalid until proven valid, not the other way around. Just like proving guilt is required before someone can be deprived of freedom, so should a patent be held to the same standard before it can be used to deprive others of freedom to pedal their wares.

    • When I worked at Sonic, we did a good job of starting a customer's order while they were in the turn lane, preparing to pull into the parking lot. Some customers were INDIVIDUALLY identified, including the lady who came by every morning on her way to work. Others were "profiled" - a truck full of construction workers at lunch time was almost always going to order some double meat jalapeno cheeseburgers. A minivan at dinner time driven by a mom-aged woman means get kid's meal packaging ready. Others were

      • Yeah doing that kind of thing is called DOING YOUR FRACKING JOB. In fact if you (and your crew) are good enough you can make up for a few bad Misses in the metrics by getting "negative" serve times.

        Hot tip for the folks on the other side of the counter if you have a convoy and you are headed to a spot ring them up when you are about 10+(N*5) minutes away and tell whoever picks up the phone "Hi My name is %name% and i have X cars with Y adults and Z children about W minutes away (bonus if you can sort out t

  • Every brick & mortar store in existence stocks its shelves with items they hope people in the local area will buy, before the people buy them. You can patent that?

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:42PM (#46007401)

    Out in stores before the movie is finished!

  • by rueger (210566) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:42PM (#46007405) Homepage
    On a regular basis I hear from people exhorting me to abandon Amazon.com and only buy books at my local bricks and mortar retailer.

    Although quaint, the truth of the matter is that my local bookstore a) doesn't have what I want, when I want it. b) may or may not be able to order it reasonably quickly and c) has higher prices.

    Amazon has succeeded where most other on-line retailers have failed because of one thing: they are very, very good at giving customers what they want. They mastered long-tail retailing before most people had heard the phrase. I can return to their web site after a year or two and they'll usually manage to actually suggest items that I would want to purchase.

    Plus, and this is the big plus, they manage to make it really, really easy to find what I want and buy it.

    Plus, and this matters at least as much as service, I actually trust Amazon to give me good service, not pass my credit card number on to random Russian mafia, and to take care of me if I have a problem.

    (OK, the trust issues are pretty subjective, and for sure someone will jump up to say "Yeah, but this happened to my buddy one time...," but that's the point of trust: if you've got it you can move past the glitches that happen.)

    (And given the seemingly endless string of credit card data breaches, it's probably good to not trust Amazon with that info either)
    • by rossdee (243626)

      "On a regular basis I hear from people exhorting me to abandon Amazon.com and only buy books at my local bricks and mortar retailer."

      Thats just silly unless Amazon has a presence in your State, or you don't pay sales tax on books in your State.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:44PM (#46007417) Homepage

    With predictive algorithms and loads of local warehouses, which they already have or are building, they can already give you same day/next day delivery.

    What are they going to do? Predict to the exact minute you order something, a day or two in advance, and have the package arrive within the hour of order? That is the only way they could do better than they are already doing.

    And it seems to me, if you are going to try this predictive ordering, you put the merchandise on the trucks, but do not actually deliver it that day unless you get the order before drop off. It would not cost any more money to put a few boxed of popular good on trucks, and drive them around all day, and update the drivers schedule on the go with new orders. You do not even have to predict individual people, just groups, which is actually doable and easy.

    • by redback (15527)

      For that idea to work, it would have to be Amazons own trucks, rather than UPS/Fedex/USPS

    • by PPH (736903)

      you put the merchandise on the trucks, but do not actually deliver it that day unless you get the order before drop off.

      Seems to me, I've seen this marketing strategy somewhere already. Guy pulls up in parking lot with a van. "We have these speakers we couldn't deliver. Want a good deal?"

  • ``Of course, Amazon's algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns.''

    Has the law changed? At one time, if a company sent you something you didn't order, is was within your rights to merely keep it.

    I will be charging Amazon a ``handling'' charge if they want to insist on me returning an item they shipped to me that I didn't order. My time and fuel costs for driving the item to a UPS store for the return are going to be compensated for.

    • No, the law hasn't changed at all. But that's not what they're referring to here. Amazon ships the item to a local dispatch point, and holds the final leg of the shipment until the last possible minute. If that final order doesn't materialize, Amazon is being charged for the charge to the local distribution point (and back).

      • by Enry (630)

        Or hoping that someone else in the area purchases the item.

      • by rnturn (11092)

        I can see why they might be concerned about the returns costs even if that's what they're doing.

        I ordered an IT book a couple of months ago and Amazon keeps sending me emails about other stuff I might be interested. I shudder to think how in the world they think that shipping another book on object oriented assembly language (kidding... that's not what I ordered) to the local shipping depot is going to be all that good for Amazon even if there was someone in my immediate vicinity that wanted to order such

        • They wouldn't do that. They would cache 10 copies of the latest Beyonce album and 5 copies of the latest romantic bestseller. Not the weird stuff that people around here want. They want the great teaming masses - this is quantity, not quality (or whatever it is we do around here).

  • by gregor-e (136142) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:53PM (#46007475) Homepage
    Amazon is merely pushing the tendrils of predictive modeling down a level in their supply-chain. No, they're not going to actually deliver something to you before you order it. But experience tells them, through predictive modeling, that someone in your immediate neighborhood is likely to order more boiled peanuts in the next day or so, so they simply box them up, put them on a truck and once that truck gets to your neighborhood, they lie in wait. Sure enough, Bubba Hatfield, your neighborhood transplant from the land of dixie, gets him a hankering for some more boiled peanuts which, for some reason, they never have on the shelves in the local grocery store. He'd really rather buy some off the shelf at a local store, on account of how bad his craving is, but knowing there's some boiled peanuts on the way will help salve his itch a little, so he fires up his browser and finds him some of that bliss in a can. Now, what to his wondering eyes does he see? Under delivery options, there's a new 'IMMEDIATE DELIVERY' option for just $5. What? Are they going to use a rocket to send a can of boiled peanuts all the way from wherever the hell Amazon is all the way out here? He skeptically reads the 'more information' link about this new delivery option. All it says is they guarantee delivery in 30 minutes or less, or his peanuts are free. What the hell? Yeah, an extra $5 for a can of peanuts is ridiculous, but the thought of being able to eat some of those heavenly morsels within just a few minutes is too much. He selects IMMEDIATE DELIVERY and punches the buy button. The friendly Amazon truck, which just happens to have boiled peanuts among its cargo, adds Bubba's address to its current route. In 27 minutes, 30 seconds, an incredulous Mr. Hatfield is gazing, teary-eyed, at a can of purest dixie delight right there in his hands.
    • Now, what to his wondering eyes does he see? Under delivery options, there's a new 'IMMEDIATE DELIVERY' option for just $5. What? Are they going to use a rocket to send a can of boiled peanuts all the way from wherever the hell Amazon is all the way out here? He skeptically reads the 'more information' link about this new delivery option. All it says is they guarantee delivery in 30 minutes or less, or his peanuts are free. What the hell? Yeah, an extra $5 for a can of peanuts is ridiculous, but the thought of being able to eat some of those heavenly morsels within just a few minutes is too much. He selects IMMEDIATE DELIVERY and punches the buy button. The friendly Amazon truck, which just happens to have boiled peanuts among its cargo, adds Bubba's address to its current route. In 27 minutes, 30 seconds, an incredulous Mr. Hatfield is gazing, teary-eyed, at a can of purest dixie delight right there in his hands.

      Nice (though you could write it just as well about some kind of hipster monkey poop coffee or something).

      Well, if Bubba thinks it is worth an extra $5 to get his peanuts within the hour, or Pajama Boy thinks it's worth an extra $10 to get his fair trade monkey poop coffee faster, why not? It's no stupider than sometimes paying extra to just walk in a convenience store and grab some milk, instead of walking past 50 aisles and waiting in a long line to get it.

    • The friendly Amazon truck, which just happens to have boiled peanuts among its cargo, adds Bubba's address to its current route. In 27 minutes, 30 seconds, an incredulous Mr. Hatfield is gazing, teary-eyed, at a can of purest dixie delight right there in his hands.

      Goddammit, now I want some boiled peanuts...

      (To those of us from the South, boiled peanuts are our In-N-Out burger....)

    • by rossdee (243626)

      There was another online company that had an "Instant" delivery option.
      It was called ACME , and when Wile E Coyote pressed to order button the item materialised above his head, and promptly fell on him.

      (I think this was in Looney Tunes - back in action )

  • Yes it is true that I am going to order a 60" TV, but does Amazon's patent decribe from whom I am going to order my TV from?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hasn't this already been done by stores which carry items I might buy in their inventory, so that when I come in, I can buy things right there and then? They anticipate what I will buy, and have it on the shelf.

    How is something like this worthy of a patent!?

  • "But we are out of inflatable rubber sluts."

  • It used to bother me, Amazon and the like causing the gradual downfall of physical stores, but for a large part, there is precious little differentiation. Whatever gadget I am interested in is often sealed in hard plastic so there's no way to interact with it, to do anything, really, besides look at it and read the specs, which I could do at Amazon (and there are customer reviews). I used to buy higher priced gear at brick and mortar stores because there was usually someone knowledgeable who could answer

  • "For legal reasons, the trucks are always rolling!"

  • They're probably not going to fully deliver anything you didn't order. What rights would they have to claim it back?

    What they can do is start getting stuff closer to you - shipping it to the local warehouse, even putting it on the back of the truck before you've committed to buying it. This is probably where the free gift/discount things will kick in, as it may work out cheaper for them to do that then retract the item at such a late stage.

    Alternatively, of course, like the drone thing, it could just be ano

    • by rossdee (243626)

      But the nearest local warehouse is 3 states over. If they had a warehouse in this state then I would have to pay sales tax, so I wouldn't be ordering from Amazon anyway.

      • by N1AK (864906)
        Amazon has played the sales tax dodging game for long enough now and it's going to end. With physical sales falling and web sales increasing it just isn't plausible to expect it to carry on. Amazon doesn't really care. They'll milk it as long as they can then move on.
  • by cstacy (534252)

    Some say Milk Man's come back to the future!

  • It will take people very little time to game the system. They will figure out some way to buy a slew of little things that then let them lead up to a 55" TV being sent for free. Often these ML algorithms have trouble with edge cases. So you pick a pen, wishlist a pen, order a pen, pick a pen, wishlist a pen, order a pen for a few rounds, then you load up your wish list with 1000 55" TV. Maybe the system gave you a 1 in a 1000 chance of actually ordering the 55" screen but with 1000 of them in your wishlist
    • Good point.... Human ingenuity in a free market is indeed a beautiful thing. The potential value that Amazon might write off a premature delivery could incentivize some portion of buyers to, as you say, game the system. BUT, of course there will be others who will treat it as a utility, not taking time to "game the system", and instead pocket the convenience of delivery. Trash collections, electricity, gas, etc. make this likely.

      In many US cities, diesel fuel delivery trucks "pre-fill" commercial tr

  • ...And a one-cubic meter box will whack me in the head.
  • Read the patent. It's not about shipping unordered items to the customer. It's about shipping items, packed for delivery to an undesignated customer, to a shipping hub near the customer. If the customer orders it as predicted, a box gets a full delivery address on the label and goes on the truck; if not, it's held, sent back, or sold to someone else.

    Amazon can sometimes avoid air shipment, yet still provide fast delivery, by doing this. The patent is about analyzing those tradeoffs in real-time and optimizing. This takes careful management, or the final shipping hubs will choke with boxed unsold inventory. The final hubs aren't full scale fulfuilment centers with big inventory, order picking, and packing; they're just box handling operations. If the system detects a partial truckload going somewhere and empty space at a destination hub, that's a good time to preposition some items likely to get ordered soon.

    The level of coordination this implies is impressive.

    • by JSG (82708)

      God God, they've invented JIT.

      All that farting around with Finite Capacity Planning, Sales Forecasting and stuff I did for a pie factory around 15 years ago was to be actually invented around now.

      We would generate a forecast of sales, fax it to the customer (multiples in the UK) and then manufacture and ship product based on that forecast. Most of the time the forecast would come back with a signature on it (an order).

      Pies (Pasties, sausage rolls, pork pies etc etc) have a short life span and have to be ge

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @07:26PM (#46008429) Homepage Journal
    That would explain why I got a dildo, two pounds of Kona coffee, a Mickey Mouse Ears hat and the third season of My Little Pony in the mail last week...
    • by JSG (82708)

      When you have finished snorting the coffee through the (slightly modified) dildo and smoked the Pony whilst wearing the Ears, please ensure you fill in your reviews. I need to know ...

      Cheers
      Jon

    • by shikaisi (1816846)

      That would explain why I got a dildo, two pounds of Kona coffee, a Mickey Mouse Ears hat and the third season of My Little Pony in the mail last week...

      How come they shipped you my order?

  • Oops... Best Price and Freebies.

    That's going to hurt Amazon. UPS and FedEx alert me when packages are shipped to me...If I know they're doing this I can use it to get the best price, better than even they would give me. Once they've shipped it they need to start dropping the price fast so I don't refuse it.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @07:58PM (#46008601)

    My wife has about 30 items on her baby registry at Target.com. Target doesn't know which of her friends will buy each item, but they can be pretty sure that most of them will be purchased. It would make sense for Target to go ahead and ship these items to the local store or distribution center and have them sitting by the loading dock.

  • How about this one:

    System and Method for Motivating Customers to Pay for Expedited Shipping

    The present invention is for a system and method to motivate customers to pay for expedited shipping by not shipping any non-expedited purchase until after the time that the customer would have received the purchase if he/she had paid for expedited shipping. Said system and method is distinct from ordinary delays which may occur naturally due to simply giving priority to expedited shipments over non-expedited shipments. Rather, the present invention is for a system and method of deliberately inflicting punishment on frugal customers in order to motivate them to pay exorbitant prices for one-time expedition of a purchase, and/or to pay for a special expedited-shipping subscription program. Said subscription program may include additional benefits such as free rental of worthless films, though that is not within the scope of the present invention.

    Beyond the aforementioned method of implementing unnecessary shipment delays, the present invention would include a system for notifying customers of the progress of their orders, including non-shipment thereof, so that said customers would be able to distinguish reasonable delays from senseless delays, thereby maximizing their motivation to pay for or subscribe to expedited shipping in the future.

    Disclaimer: I recognize that the above constitutes a software patent. I apologize in advance to those of you who, in the interest of humor, I have thereby offended by disclosure of the present invention. Be comforted, at least, that I am establishing prior art to prevent Amazon from actually patenting this.

  • Wow, I thought /. was finally getting around to posting about Amazon Yesterday Shipping:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA_gwzx39LQ [youtube.com]

    Guess it was slightly different...

  • I'm going to put a shitload of Radeon R9 290X and Bitcoin mining hardware in my shopping cart, just in case they send it by mistake.

  • My local chemist pre-orders my medication in anticipation that I will continue to buy it from them. However, there is no guarantee of this. I could go somewhere else, wait for that chemist to order the medication (it's not common) and then buy it from them. Still, since I have established a pattern of going to one particular chemist for said medication, that chemist regularly re-orders it after I collect it.

    Is this prior art?

  • by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:38AM (#46011399)
    In a small french town (I don't remember which one, the story appeared in the newspaper about forty years ago) a bookstore owner had the habit of sending by mail books to people living close to his store. The book was accompanied by a note saying: "For evaluation. If not interested please return".
    A contractor was very annoyed by this, so one night he poured a ton of gravel in front of the bookstore, and he put a sign on the top of it saying: "For evaluation. If not interested please return.".
    • by GuB-42 (2483988)

      BTW, this practice is now illegal in France.
      If it happens, you just need to notify the seller that you keep the product at his disposal for two weeks. If he doesn't pick it up, it's yours. Of course you don't have to pay anything.

  • If this was combined with amazons network of lockers, they could pre-ship items they anticipate to sell into some of the lockers in that area, then when someone orders an item you can offer them immediate delivery if they are willing to go collect it from a nearby locker.

    You would need some pretty accurate algorithms to make this work, as the space available in any given set of lockers is very small, but you dont have to be quite as accurate as per-customer, just down to the set of customers in the vicinity

  • Amazon can also ship stuff before it exists. I just got a Lumia with Windows 9 in the mail today.

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