Google awarded patent for e-commerce shipping notification
Internet search giant Google has been awarded a patent on an electronic shipping notification system to help online shoppers track their purchases with more accuracy. The company based in California’s Silicon Valley filed the patent application back in 2007, but only this week was it awarded by the US Patent Office.
Essentially, the patent would allow Google to use its search engine genius to combine other data with a shipment’s barcode to calcuate the estimated time of arrival of an e-commerce purchase in more detail than current shippers allow.
The patent documents suggest its notification system would use detailed historical delivery information for certain addresses from shippers in order to calculate likely delivery times for items.
Using the Google system, an online customer would be sent a text message or email with a fairly precise delivery time, so they could more easily arrange for someone to be at home to collect the item.
The search engine’s patent notes that e-commerce is now commonplace, but that customers often have to be home in order to receive their items – but with current technology that can mean having to take an entire day off work in order to receive an online purchase.
Even then, the Google patent says a person may waste a great deal of time if the shipment does not arrive on the promised day.
“This waiting can be extremely inconvenient for people who work or have other obligations that make it difficult to remain at the shipping address,” said Google in the patent documents.
A spokesperson for Google told Post&Parcel today that the company could not comment on the patent or its plans for potentially using the electronic notification system.
Speaking at the PostalVision2020 conference back in June, Google’s chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf suggested his company had neither the physical infrastructure nor the interest to actually move into the provision of physical shipping services, although he did note that package delivery was a significant area of opportunity for the US Postal Service.
Although it is unlikely to branch out into the physical logistics world, the search engine giant does already provide online-based software services for e-commerce companies in the form of its Google Checkout service, which includes a payment system for online retailers. This service could be conceivably extended by an electronic shipping notification system.
Google also has its Google Maps technology, and associated GPS positioning service, to allow tracked items to be displayed on searchable maps.