Amazon.com this week won a broad patent on technology that lets customers schedule product deliveries to their doorsteps or mailboxes on a recurring basis, without needing to submit a new order every time. The patent filing says this approach will be particularly useful to overcome “the challenges presented by the delivery of perishable goods or other consumables.”
“For instance,” the filing explains, “a customer may request delivery of one bunch of bananas every week and two gallons of milk every two weeks.”
Gee, where did they come up with this one?
Amazon is already implementing this “innovation” in some form with the Subscribe & Save feature of its e-commerce portal, and more directly with the Automatic Delivery option for its Amazon Fresh grocery service in the Seattle region. But of course, the underlying concept dates back almost a century to the advent of the milkman.
The patent, granted on Feb. 5, describes a basic online system for scheduling and managing recurring deliveries of all sorts. It’s part of a trend in which Amazon takes an age-old concept, wraps it in a bit of technology, and gets the blessing of the patent office. Earlier this week, we reported on the company’s new patent on the resale and lending of used digital goods.
What’s next? Airbags in a smartphone? Oh wait, they already patented that, too.
Here’s a diagram from the latest patent showing the company’s vision for Milkman 2.0.
Image above left via Wikimedia Commons, milkman and delivery wagon circa 1925.