Amazon Wants To Ship You Free Things

This past Saturday, the online retail giant Amazon.com secured a new patent for the idea of “anticipatory shipping,” according to the Verge.

This new concept introduces a system of pre-cognition on the part of Amazon, as the company plans on shipping customers the items it believes they will like before they even purchase them.

The idea includes sending specific items to shipping hubs in areas where those items will likely sell well, serving to cut down delivery times and increase efficiency. For example, shipments of winter coats would be sent to Boston in November in order to allow for expedited shipping to customers in the northeast.

Boston says, "coats please!" Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Boston says, "coats please!"
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By enabling Amazon to increase their shipping efficiency, this idea could potentially send the online retailer to the head of the pack, as it will allow customers to quickly receive their orders without venturing out to the mall.

The company’s idea of anticipatory shipping to certain regions of the country makes logical sense, and is practical in that it will allow for more efficient shipping to customers. What’s shocking is the level of omniscience that the company plans on reaching: according to the patent, Amazon will sometimes ship products to customers’ doors, whether or not they have actually ordered anything.

By tracking which products each user views or shops for online, the company will decide what products to send to whom and offer them at a discounted rate or even for free. The thought process behind this idea is that the customer will either return the product, or, since it is already on his/her doorstep, purchase it at the discounted price or accept it as a free gift.

This generosity on the part of the company poses the question, “won’t Amazon be losing money by offering discounted or free products to its customers?” Believe it or not, the answer is no: By offering these reduced prices, the new plan may in fact generate more revenue for Amazon by encouraging customers to purchase more products from the website in the future.

Well, no need for malls anymore. Photo courtesy of Ben Schumin/Wikimedia Commons.

Well, no need for malls anymore.
Photo courtesy of Ben Schumin/Wikimedia Commons.

“Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” says Amazon’s new patent.

While the idea of anticipatory shipping is still in its beginning stages, Amazon has gone so far as to patent it, showing that the company has realistic hopes for this new method of serving its customers. This proposal, along with the recently announced possibility of using drones to deliver packages to customers in less than thirty minutes, highlights the extent to which Amazon really does wish to dominate the online retail market.

As a company, Amazon has been shown to produce innovative and forward-thinking business strategies in order to better service their customers – a quality that is, on the surface, both respectable and progressive. Looking at the bigger picture, however, brings to light the spooky omniscience that Amazon will have regarding the lives of consumers if these plans come to fruition.

“When you consider that Amazon also wants to take over the Post Office on Sundays [and] use drones instead of trucks, the extent to which Amazon might someday control our lives should be something to think carefully about. Maybe we all need a little space between the hyper-intelligent Internet giant and our daily lives,” stated an article on thewire.com yesterday afternoon.

At this point, only time will tell whether or not Amazon’s groundbreaking proposal to target specific customers and implement more efficient shipment methods will become a reality. If it does, online shopping as we currently know it could change completely.

Featured photo courtesy of Amazon.com/Facebook.

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