Using the "Book of the Month" analogy, Sunstein asks if the time has come, to revive the model where you receive goods or services which you have not chosen, based on an algorithm of your habits: picture Amazon sending you the books you'd buy anyway. That's called predictive shopping. The goods are returnable and (I assume, the article doesn't say) there would be no shipping charge either way if you did not accept an order.
He undertook survey research and found, in summary, that up to 1/3 of all respondents would welcome such a service, especially for staples, which might even be monitored remotely so the vendor knows when you're running low.
As you'd expect, the acceptance rate rose when buyers could opt in to such a program, and was far more popular among youth, with an up to 40% approval rating for the idea of receiving regular, recurring deliveries initiated by a selected vendor.
Sunstein writes, "It suggests the possibility that among younger people, enthusiasm is growing for predictive shopping, especially for routine goods where shopping is an annoyance and a distraction. For such goods, predictive shopping promises to be liberating..."
|Just send a pair yearly!|
Once begun, why stop? I'm only going to get older. I think of my mother's friends in their 70s and 80s, still keenly interested in clothes, but unable to make the rounds of stores or even cope with repeated trips to the change room.
Those Depression-era women would have been suspicious of unbidden purchases, but my generation, softened by internet shopping, are ripe for the plucking. Just like credit cards, predictive shopping is a consumption-enabler par excellence.
|Could you say no?|
(Photo courtesy of issabellathecat, who blogs about her spectacular quilts.)
Big data has already come a-courting; the path has been laid via flash sales, "members-only" sites like Groupon, the "other shoppers bought" feature on Amazon, and those creepy ads that pop up when you're booking a plane ticket—for the very shoes you were ogling on Net-a-porter.