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Step One: Look at it; buy it. Step Two: Ship it before you buy it. Amazon has you covered.

Amazon Prime Delivery Drones are a few years away, according to CEO, Jeff Bezos.  However, starting yesterday, you can point your iPhone at something you like, and Amazon’s updated shopping app places it in your shopping cart, automatically.  Amazon calls the new feature “Flow,” and it recognizes items by analyzing their shape, color, size, text and appearance.  It actually works. 

I tried the flow feature at home last night and it successfully identified, and placed in my Amazon shopping cart, 8 of 10 items I pointed my phone toward, including: milk, mustard, toothpicks, The New Yorker magazine, and Dave Eggers new book “The Circle.” Little blue sparkles appear on your screen, like magic pixie dust, and surround each item until it is identified; this averaged about 2 to 3 seconds. Flow even recognized 3 items in my refrigerator, simultaneously. 

The next phase?  Predictive Shipping.  Amazon will ship your product… before you buy it.  Two months ago Amazon was granted a patent for “anticipatory shipping,” an automated process to start delivering your package before you click “buy.” Amazon’s algorithms use consumer data including prior orders, product searches and wish lists; they even monitor how long your mouse “hovers” over an item.  Amazon has long used “big data” to competitive advantage; this is powerful potential application to decrease delivery time and provide near instant gratification.

Imagine What’s Next:  Think of an item and Amazon delivers it to your 3-D home printer.

- David J. Katz

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