We all receive them. Gifts that we really appreciate, but that we’ll never use. Did Great Aunt Martha send you a Snuggie? Uncle George sent you a Flowbee? What if you could exchange them before they ever arrive at your doorstep? What if you had a built in “unwanted gift detection and gift swapping system” that would deploy before the gift left the warehouse? That is exactly what Amazon’s new patented “System and method for converting gifts” does for you.
According to the 212-page Patent #7,831,439, which was granted earlier this week and is headlined by Jeff Bezos and Colin Bryar, a “System and method for converting gifts”, is:
A computer-implemented data processing system comprising: a memory that stores gift conversion rules; and a processor in communication with the memory that: generates a user interface configured to permit a gift sender to order a product as a gift for a gift recipient via a network service; and executes gift conversion logic that permits the gift recipient to specify the gift conversion rules, wherein the gift conversion rules specified by the gift recipient define a manner in which gifts purchased for the gift recipient may be automatically converted, wherein at least one gift conversion rule identifies the gift sender who has ordered a product as a gift for the gift recipient, such that whether the gift is converted is determined based at least in part on the identity of the gift sender specified in the at least one gift conversion rule.
The patent goes on to say that “With the increasing popularity of network shopping services (e.g., websites that enable users to make purchases on-line), the popularity of purchasing gifts through network shopping services has also increased. As in other gift-giving situations, it sometimes occurs that gifts purchased on-line do not meet the needs or tastes of the gift recipient. For example, the recipient may already have the item and may not need another one of that same item. Alternatively, the item may not be the right size, the right type, the right style, and so on. In such situations, the recipient may wish to convert the gift to something else, for example, by exchanging the gift for another item or by obtaining a redemption coupon, gift card, or other gift certificate to be redeemed later.
In some cases, concern that the gift recipient may not like a particular gift may cause the person sending the gift to be more cautious in gift selection. The pearson sending the gift may be less likely to take a chance on a gift that is unexpected but that the recipient might truly enjoy, opting instead for a gift that is somewhat more predictable but less likely to be converted to something else. If the sender does decide to send the more unexpected gift, the sender may offer words of encouragement to the recipient (e.g., instructing the recipient to “feel free to exchange it if you don’t like it”). However, the process of converting the gift to something else once it has already been opened may be perceived by the recipient as being inconvenient. This may particularly be the case in the context of a gift purchased on-line, where the gift would likely need to be repackaged for shipping back to the merchant. Accordingly, the recipient may not ultimately convert the gift to something else, even though the gift does not meet the needs or tastes of the recipient.
The gift giving experience through network shopping services would be improved for both senders and recipients if enhanced systems and methods were provided for converting gifts. It will be appreciated that while the teachings herein describe certain features and advantages that may be achieved, the teachings herein may be used to implement systems and methods that do not necessarily have any of these features or advantages, but rather have other features and advantages.”
Here is a diagram from the patent, showing the “Rules Wizard” for the gift conversion system:
Now if only they could do something about those pesky relatives showing up unannounced at the door. Relative-swapping system, anyone?
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