Will Amazon ship items before you've even purchased them?

Amazon has patented 'anticipatory package shipping,' which would ship an item before a customer bought it based on the customer's previous purchases, wish list, and other factors.

Phil Noble/Reuters
A worker pushes a trolly inside the Amazon fulfillment center in Peterborough, England.

Yes, Amazon currently offers suggestions for other products you might like based on what you’ve previously purchased.

But will the bookselling giant now ship items before you’ve even bought them?

Amazon recently patented what is called “anticipatory package shipping.” Through the system, the company would ship items based on such factors as a customer’s wish list, the purchases they’ve made before, and how long a customer’s cursor stays over a particular item, according to NPR.

Then the item could stay on a truck or at a nearby hub until the order actually takes place, if it does.

What would happen if a customer didn’t actually want the item? According to the patent, the company says it could give the item to a customer as a gift anyway or give the customer a discount on the item to prevent a return that could be expensive.

It all comes back to Amazon wanting to get purchases to customers as quickly as possible – the company stated in the patent that it sees wait time for shipping as something that “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.”

When contacted by the Wall Street Journal, an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

Of course, Amazon may not move forward on this idea. But if they do, it remains to be seen how the public will respond. Is anticipatory shipping convenient – or intrusive and off-putting?

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