How is this an invention?
I don't understand. How is this an invention? It's a business process. Using software to anticipate product requirements has been around for years? Google "Just in time"
Amazon.com has been granted a patent for “a method and system for anticipatory package shipping”. The patent's concept is simple: Amazon wants to pack up single items and ship them closer to customers, even before they order the item. These “speculatively shipped packages” will be distributed to a “hub” in locations Amazon …
> local shop
Or for a more exact analogy, that phenomenon which used to be common in rural parts (of the UK, at least), the mobile shop.
Take a reasonably sized van, equip it with shelves, make a prediction of what your customers might want, stock up the van and drive it around the hamlets*. [Emphasis added].
This worked well in the days before most people had cars and had been bamboozled by "choice". Why the hell my local supermarket has to stock 29** varieties of toothpaste I cannot fathom. In any event, the business process has been anticipated by at least fifty years to my personal knowledge, unless the USPTO is going to fall for the "... and do it with a computer" claim. Oh, hang on...
* Stopping to make sales to customers usually makes for a more successful business. Do I have to say that?
** Yes, I counted. Why do you ask?
How is this process, as described by Amazon, different from how retail stores do their ordering?
Our average 1L milk sales on Monday, during the previous month, was 10 bottles so we'll order 10 for next Monday.
Throw in a few 'speculatives' and a 'preemptive' and it's apparently worthy of a patient.
'But I guess if it's loaded into a lorry, they can tag it with: "in a mobile device."'
They can't. Apple have a patent to use the phrases "on/in/with/using/under/behind/instead of/inside/outside/beside/around/in place of* a mobile device" in patents.
* Delete as appropriate. And I might have missed some.
Who here knows about Spolsky on Software and related bogs?
Who here knows about stackexchange and related websites?
Who here knew that there is a member of that family of websites set up specifically to (amongst other things) help eliminate implausible patents when there is clear prior art ?
Have a lot of fun.
But everyone that "is doing it" is doing a really crap job. Hopefully Amazon will shake things up and idiots like Radio Shack and Best Buy will finally go out of business.
The local Best Buy doesn't even stock HDMI cables. Or non-wireless Ethernet cards. Or more than one model/capacity of disk drive or home router. Seriously. There's a reason you don't need to fight for a parking space out front.
1) Make existing shops uneconmical to run by undercutting them with an online shop that runs at breakeven, or a small loss.
2) Somehow manage to patent distribution warehouses.
3) When all the shops are closed, add a 'showroom' and 'collections desk' to each local warehouse, which by now are the size of a small moon.
4) Somehow manage to patent the shop.
5) Jack up prices 100% a year.
6) Rebranding, new tagline: 'where else can you go' with new line art logo: 'JB gives you the finger'.
Honestly, I'm trying to remember ANY comment thread in this rag where the readership has for the most part praised anything. Amazing amount of hatred here, day in, day out.
Is there nothing positive at all about Amazon? I for one do not miss brick and mortar shopping much at all. Amazon for the most part in my neck of the woods offers a better selection of most of the things I want than does any brick and mortar store or online store for that matter. I've ceased doing web searches when shopping and start by searching Amazon where I can one click myself into Nirvana. Living in Seattle, I have now many times ordered something in the early AM only to be surprised to have it delivered in only one day. I've taken advantage of a few "same day" deliveries for an additional $3.99. If this anticipatory shipping does as I suspect, there will be far more items available to me for same day shipping. Amazon kicks arse!
The gripes are not so much Amazon in general (although others of their business practises, in common with a long list of US companies in particular - Apple anyone? are a great cause for concern).
The primary issue is that they are attempting to claim a patent for the long established business practise of anticipating demand and moving stock close to the anticipated customer in advance.
The notion that a retailer can patent the practice of housing inventory near where they expect people to buy it is prima facie absurd.
If that can be done, then I shall resume my effort, first mentioned on this site in 2006, to patent the graphical representation of verbal communications, and to patent the use of artifacts, i.e. the use of anything not simply found lying about on the ground.
This new Amazon patent-of-the-obvious gives me renewed hope.
Ignore the patent - the fact that they think it's a patentable business method tells you quite a lot about how the Amazon site and databases works behind the scenes. When you go to Amazon and start searching or browsing for a product category they probably have a better idea of what you'll eventually purchase than you do when you log in.
Maybe I'm being a bit thick (again), but is there maybe another motivation for this change that us technies appear to have missed so far?
What's the financial (e.g. tax) treatment of stock in the warehouses for Amazon at the moment? It seems to be widely accepted in retail that having stock is financially a Bad Thing, even though stock availability is what allows orders to be fulfilled and revenue to be booked and received.
If your physical stock is not on the books as stock but immediately it arrives it goes onto the books as a "sale" which is allegedly already on its route to the customer, does this make any difference to the retailer's financial situation? I'm thinking it might, but ICBW.
Just askin, like.
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