Amazon Announces Plan to Predict Your Next Purchase

(Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos)

Jeff Bezos and his buddies at Amazon have announced a new business strategy last week:  they’re predicting what you’re going to order next week, this week.  Amazon has recently patented a method to ship your stuff before you’ve even ordered it.  Called ‘anticipatory shipping,’ this new method is the latest in a series of ventures designed to get your items to you even quicker. 

Coming right after they announced ‘drone delivery’ late last year, where they would ship your package to your doorstep via an unmanned aerial vehicle, Amazon has announced an arguably more astonishing way to improve service.  Have they gone too far this time, or is this Orwellian level of privacy invasion simply the next big thing?

I’ll admit, an unmanned drone buzzing up to my front door creeps me out more than a little bit, but one carrying something I haven’t even ordered yet? I’d be just as likely to take a baseball bat to that thing as thank it. Before this terrifies you students, please know that this is just a patent, and as of press time they have no plans to implement this into service.  Regardless, they’re more likely to use this complicated process of algorithms to ship items to a nearby hub to await your order in a closer location, than actually send it to your house.

The patent is based on a number of things common to the Amazon website such as:  your Wish List, items you frequently browse, and the number of clicks you have devoted to a singular item.  The full patent can be found here

Just a patent, this nonetheless gives an interesting perspective on Amazon’s plans for the future.  For far too long the pros of shopping online vs. a brick-and-mortar store was that element of instant gratification, which you can get much more quickly online with digital media like books, movies, and music, but for an item like a new lawnmower or television you’d have to wait a few days for it to ship. Maybe not for long.

Clearly Amazon’s plan is to make sure you never want to go to a store and wait in line again. If they can get shipping down to under a day, who would want to?

I’ve thought of many ways the patent could be useful for students, such as ordering your books the moment you sign up for classes rather than waiting until next semester. Simply syncing your UAFS account with Amazon could provide a number of useful features in the future.

This seems like a much more interesting idea than I originally thought.  Jeff Bezos, who started Amazon in 1995, has never been one to run Amazon to make money, if he did they’d be Wal-Mart.  Since coming up with the hotly debated concept of “one click buying” in 1999, Bezos and Amazon have been ahead of the times with new ideas and snazzy features.  Amazon first reported a profit in 2001, $5 million on revenues of over $1 billion, not exactly setting the world afire with their profit margin, but proving they can be successful.  It will be interesting to see where these latest endeavors take us in the future.


James Stewart Price
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Date Posted: 
Tuesday, January 28, 2014