A few weeks ago (Jan. 17), the Wall Street Journal reported on an odd patent: Amazon patented the concept of "anticipatory shipping." In other words, it patented a system that ships an item to a customer before the customer actually orders it.
How can one company patent something like that?
My initial reaction to that is: How can one company patent something like that? Isn't that just called "being organized" or "sound business operations?" That's a simple implementation of business intelligence: Aligning customer purchase history data, inventory and shipping locations to predict where stock needs to be replenished.
In short, it's yet another example for necessary U.S. patent reform.
"The patent exemplifies a growing trend among technology and consumer firms to anticipate consumers’ needs, even before consumers do," wrote the WSJ's Greg Bensinger.
"Today, there are refrigerators that can tell when it’s time to buy more milk, smart televisions that predict which shows to record and Google’s Now software, which aims to predict users’ daily scheduling needs."
Bensiger says it's unclear at this moment how Amazon is deploying (or plans to deploy) the new technique. A spokeswoman declined to comment.
iQmetrix offers means of predicting business needs: Business Intelligence, iQmetrix Maps and Vendor Managed Inventory.
We also have a number of VMI partners that link processes and information from RQ directly to your supplier, creating an auto-replenished inventory system.
And worry not: None of this technology infringes with Amazon's new anticipatory shipping patent.