Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. It was originally only a bookstore but soon sold music, DVD, software, video games, electronics, clothes, furniture, groceries and many other items. Amazon is characterized by rapid development and cutting-edge innovation.
Starting out in the garage of its founder, Jeff Bezos, within months it was selling books all over the world. Amazon had the advantage of an almost unlimited catalog of items over brick and mortar bookstores, as it used the catalogs and warehouses of the companies that supplied its products. Eventually, as it expanded, Amazon developed its own warehouse system, or fulfillment centers, to speed up shipments to its customers. There are currently fulfillment centers in many locations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Amazon has recently patented its latest attempt to provide speedy shipping service for its customers: Amazon Anticipatory Shipping.
How Anticipatory Shipping Works
The concept behind anticipatory shipping is that Amazon can guess what you are planning to order before you even order it. Currently, when your order is received, the item is packaged at one of the fulfillment centers, labeled and put on a delivery vehicle for shipping. To forecast your needs, Amazon uses its available data, such as previous orders, product searches, wish lists, returned items, contents of your virtual shopping cart and even the timing of how long you hold your mouse over an item. Based on this information, Amazon will ship items to a hub near you. These items will have partial addresses or zip codes. When you actually place the order, the label will be completed while the item is in transit. In theory, some packages, such as items you habitually order monthly or new releases of books or games Amazon calculates you would probably order, might be shipped to your physical address before you even order them.
Benefits of Anticipatory Shipping
Anticipatory shipping helps Amazon cut shipping times for orders to next-day or even same-day service. This eliminates one of the last advantages brick-and-mortar stores have over Amazon, that of being able to almost instantly supply requested items. Because a delay between ordering and receiving dissuades some customers from buying things online, Amazon seeks to close that gap.
Disadvantages of Anticipatory Shipping
Some customers may feel it is an invasion of privacy to keep all of their shopping history and use it to anticipate their needs. However, the collection of customer data is ubiquitous with retailers on the Internet, and Amazon has simply taken an innovative approach to using this data. Critics voice concerns that Amazon might sometimes make mistakes and ship items where they are not wanted. In this case, Amazon has indicated that it is willing to accept the cost of returns. To promote goodwill, Amazon may even offer deep discounts on the items or give them to the customers as gifts.
Amazon Anticipatory Shipping, though it has already been patented, is still in the development stage and has not yet been implemented. It is the latest in a string of innovations that Amazon is experimenting with to speed up its shipping time. It has already announced that it reached an agreement with United States Postal Services to deliver packages on Sundays in certain areas. Another experiment it announced recently is Amazon Prime Air, which is a delivery service of small packages by unmanned drones.
This article was provided by CJ Gordon, recent Computer Science graduate with an interest in the symbiotic relationship of business and technology. If you’re a business looking for the right transport shipment company to expand your consumer outreach, CJ recommends www.erhawthorne.com.