Google and Walmart announced last week new initiatives around same-day delivery and in-store delivery lockers, as the two companies try to keep pace with Amazon.com. Well, Amazon upped the ante again today by unveiling a new service called Amazon One Step Ahead that delivers goods to customers before they even order them.
The service leverages predictive technology that analyzes the products customers have been searching for on Amazon’s website, as well as the products and other content they “Like” on Facebook, to automatically generate an order and deliver it. “We’re taking indecisiveness out of the equation,” explained an Amazon spokesperson. “A lot of our customers don’t even know they want something until it shows up on their doorstep. Our goal with Amazon One Step Ahead is to provide our customers with a thought-free shopping experience so that they can focus their time and energy on more important things.”
Dave Gomez, an Amazon customer who’s been participating in trail tests, has been pleased with the service so far. “Last night, I ‘liked’ a Depeche Mode video that my friend Victor shared on Facebook, and today when I got home from work, there was a box from Amazon with Depeche Mode’s new CD in it. I had been on the fence about buying the album, but now I don’t have to worry about it any more.”
Not everyone agrees, however, that this new service is a great idea, or even legal. “This service raises some serious privacy and ethics issues,” says Elliott Fraser, president and founder of Consumers Against Big Data, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, DC. “What’s next, are we going to start arresting people for crimes they haven’t committed yet based on what they search on Google? We have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to the proper use of predictive technology and the vast amount of data companies and governments collect about us.”