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Amazon patents method of shipping items based on previous purchases

Amazon has patented a delivery method that would predict a customer's purchases and ship items to a general geographic vicinity in anticipation of an order.
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

In a bid to speed shipment of orders to customers and pull more business from brick and mortar stores, Amazon.com has patented "anticipatory" shipping, a way of predicting a customer's upcoming orders based on buying behavior and having items already nearby and ready for delivery.

The strategy isn't quite the headline grabbing idea of shipping items to customers before they're ordered. Amazon would ship an item to a "destination geographical area," according to the patent, then provide the specific delivery address while the package is in transit.

An example might be if customer Fred Zithersmith always orders the latest Nick Bruel book as soon as it comes out. If Amazon used the newly patented shipping method, the company's computers might predict that a copy of the author's new book should be shipped to the general vicinity of the customer's house and addressed to him after he actually places an order.

The patent was filed in August 2012 and granted in December 2013, according to media reports. The company has not released word on whether or when they might begin testing or implementing the strategy.