Amazon has been awarded a patent on a pretty nifty idea that they are calling “Anticipatory Shipping”. Basically, they are going to be using customer data to predict where, geographically, an item is most likely to be ordered and likely in what quantity. With this information, Amazon will be trying to shift inventory as close to these locations as possible to achieve as short as possible delivery times, when a customer finally does order.
The idea is, like most good ideas, surprisingly simple. By realizing that customers don’t want to wait and that there (most likely) are customer behavior patterns, this new “anticipatory shipping” idea might become a big success—if they manage to do it properly.
It’s effect on small businesses
For Amazon, this is all good, but what about small businesses? If this catches on, small businesses might have an even bigger problem on their hands. Doing what Amazon is doing will appeal to customers and if this catches on—which I am confident that it will—other stores will have no option but to try and follow.
This highlights an oft forgotten need for logistics. When we at Bernskiold Media work with clients to launch e-commerce sites, it happens more often than not, that people have forgotten about shipping and logistics. Yet, this is one of the processes that customers care about. The lead time from ordering to receiving your product is still one of the biggest obstacles for e-commerce.
As Amazon is trying to overcome this, it puts greater pressure on small businesses to care about logistics too. While it may not right now be realistic to think in the same size and scope as Amazon, just giving logistics a thought in the purchasing process is a good step forward.