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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 dhanson865 (1134161) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:25PM (#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 @03:35PM (#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 @03:49PM (#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.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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