Can Amazon’s Web Video Patent Slash Product Returns?

Written by Evan Schuman
March 31st, 2010

Can Amazon use Web video to reduce unwarranted product returns? Although the market will ultimately answer that question, the U.S. Patent Office thinks the idea is clever enough to merit a patent, which it issued Tuesday (March 30).

The idea behind the patent—see all of the Patent’s glorious tech and logistical specs here—is for Amazon to video each package as it’s being fulfilled and link the clip to the specific order number. The video would show what goes in the box and then do a close-up of the address label as the box is sealed. A link would access either still images or video clips or both.

This idea could prove quite profitable. First, it would serve as a nice high-tech differentiator. (“Go ahead, Phil’s House Of Lamps, try and match this!”) Second, it would provide honest Amazon customers—or, better yet, prospects—a reason to feel confident that Amazon will get their orders right. After all, what employee will be slipshod about packaging when that employee knows his/her every move is being filmed?

Third, mistakes happen. Don’t forget the adage that consumers should judge retailers not by how often they’re right but by how a retailer acts when it’s wrong. The proof will likely be so clear that it should allow for a very antiseptic and quick resolution, which is better for both sides. Fourth, it’s a wonderful tactic to discourage fraudsters. Or, ideally, send them to your rivals.

Unlike some of the more infamous Patent applications reported recently, this one could actually be applicable to a wide range of other retailers—assuming those retail execs could ever get comfortable with the idea of writing Amazon a royalty check. This approach could also be used to deal with misrouted package complaints—lodged by either the retailer or the consumer—against various delivery services.

Speaking of delivery services, what if FedEx or UPS started filming and cataloging their deliveries? Not only could it prove delivery more effectively than a signature, but it would come in handy for finding out exactly where mis-delivered packages really went. I’ve had several packages not arrive, only to have the delivery service swear that it was delivered to me. Usually a visit to a neighbor with a similar house number turns up the missing goods. Wouldn’t that video have been convenient for all?


2 Comments | Read Can Amazon’s Web Video Patent Slash Product Returns?

  1. Jeff Says:

    Fedex’s newest trackers that are about to be deployed do have the capability of taking pictures.

  2. James Lin Says:

    Wouldn’t they require consent of the receiver before taking a photo or video? The delivery guy would need to read a privacy statement followed by “Say Cheese!”


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.