Amazon plan to send you things you haven’t bought yet?

There’s a fair bit of speculation on the web related to a patent that Amazon have filed. It would seem they plan a service which would ship items they have in stock before a buyer has even confirmed the purchase.

What’s being called “anticipatory shipping” apparently will send people goods based on how long they have been looking at the item particulars on the Amazon website, how many times they have examined the item, previous buying habits and other metrics based on their knowledge of the customer and past behaviour.

It seems fraught with perils and will doubtless end with stacks and stacks of returns but there is a nugget of cleverness. If someone is tempted, just receiving the goods might tip them over the edge to finally buy it.

The patent also reveals the extent to which ecommerce and Amazon in the future will be making decisions based on how much they know about us as individuals. As the trend for manipulating big data continues, it will probably be quite remarkable how much Amazon will know about us. They might then be able to use that data (individually and collectively) to predict what we might buy. 1984 meets the free market.

In any case, companies file speculative patents by the dozen (especially in the tech space) as insurance against the opposition and regardless of whether they ever want to pursue an idea. And rather like the bizarre Amazon drone suggestion just before Christmas, I don’t suppose we’ll see this anytime soon. But it is food for thought.