January 20, 2014
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has quite an imagination when he thinks of the future. From all the plans and patents he’s been sharing lately, it would appear he is trying to monetize your innermost thoughts and bring them right to your door before you’ve even clicked ADD TO CART.
The Seattle-based retailer has been working on advances that will make package delivery so easy, you might say it is too easy. Amazon just coined the term “anticipatory package shipping.” A fancy new phrase—which will most certainly become overused jargon—is what the company has deemed its newly patented process, whereby products will be sent to one of the company’s many fulfillment centers near the customers most likely to purchase them, even when customers haven’t ordered said products.
You see, as far as we know, today Amazon receives orders, labels packages with addresses at its warehouses, and then loads the packages into UPS, USPS, and other delivery trucks which then either deliver them to customers’ homes or onto other delivery trucks for final drop-off.
With the new system, Amazon will be considering your previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns, and how long your cursor hovers over a product when deciding what to send to your closest fulfillment center. That way, when you do decide to buy whatever it is you’re considering, it’ll get to your door faster. (Amazon didn’t give an estimate as to how much the technique will reduce delivery times in its patent.)
So, next time you’re considering a Keurig coffee machine or that box-set of The Wire, just remember that as your cursor lingers over your potential purchase that someone, somewhere could be picking up that very product, placing it into a box and shipping it to Amazon’s nearest fulfillment center so that when you finally do decide to splurge and treat yo’self you’ll get your item that much faster.
Pair that with Bezos’ announcement in his interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes back in December, when he revealed that Amazon is working on a drone-based delivery service, “Prime Air,” which would get items to customers within just 30 minutes after they clicked “buy.” He is hoping to get this service off the ground, so to speak, within the next four to five years.
Getting a package faster may not be what you have in mind when the ever-changing idea of the future pops into your head, but it says a lot more than what’s just at the surface. Most of the technological advances we’ve seen over the last decade have been deeply rooted in instant gratification. And while we can’t help but think that Bezos’ clear attempt to take over and dominate the online retail market is creepy—the idea that you express an interest in something, and suddenly it drops from the sky (I’m kind of kidding. I think)—it has a lot more to do with what we as customers seem to be pushing for.