Online retailer Amazon.com has come up with a procedure, which will allow recipients to stay away from undesirable gifts and save millions of dollars spent on repacking, labeling and shipping. Most of the time receivers return the unwanted gifts and the new presents have to be shipped back with the same process.
But now Amazon is working on a solution that could perhaps revolutionize digital gift buying, and it has quietly patented a way for people to return gifts before they receive them.
The patent states that Amazon's innovation, not ready for this Christmas season, includes an option to "Convert all gifts from so and so".
"For example, the user may specify such a rule because the user believes that this potential sender has different tastes than the user," the Washington Post quoted the patent as stating.
In other words, the consumer could keep an online list of lousy gift-givers whose choices would be vetted before anything ships.
The proposal has also brought into focus a very costly part of the e-retailing business model: Up to 30 percent of purchases are returned, and the cost of getting rejected gifts back across the country and onto shelves has online retailers scrambling for ways to reduce these expenses.
"It's in the millions of dollars, and it might even be billions," Carl Howe, a Yankee Group consumer technology analyst, said.
"If you can get the right gift to a person the first time, this could be a huge cost-saving invention. From a retailer's perspective, this is like gold," he added.