Amazon has reportedly obtained a patent for “anticipatory shipping,” or a logistics technique using customer behavior and history to prepare items for shipping before they are actually ordered. According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon received the patent in December 2013.
Anticipatory shipping would consider factors such as product searches, wish lists, returns, and browsing patterns to predict what goods customers will ultimately order. The goods would then be held closer to where a customer lives to reduce shipping time once it is ordered. Amazon has not publicly stated when it will deploy anticipatory shipping, whether it has ever used the technique, or how much time would be shaved off the typical delivery.
Amazon told the Wall Street Journal anticipatory shipping might work especially well for items like newly released books and that it may recommend items that have already been partially shipped to customers. The patent filing said items that customers don’t wind up ordering may be sold at discount to other customers in the area or given free as promotional gifts.