The Future is Now: Drone-Powered Delivery

 

While technology in retail has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade, there is still one aspect that is, unfortunately, still lagging behind – delivery services and methods. However, there’s been quite a bit of talk over the past few years about these unusual, half-robot, half-helicopter aerial devices, flying around and delivering consumer packages. Seems crazy right?

Drones may seem like something from the (far) distant future but did you know that there are an estimated 10 million consumer drone shipments projected for next year? It’s true! Despite previously-strict FAA regulations hindering drone-technology development in the US, the drone industry as a whole refuses to sit back and wait for government policy to change, instead growing steadily by the minute. Sales are projected to top $12 billion by 2021 as the number of drones are expected to more than quadruple over the next 5 years. As per Business Insider, “A growing ecosystem of drone software and hardware vendors is already catering to a long list of clients in agriculture, land management, energy, and construction. Many of the vendors are smallish private companies and startups — although large defence-companies and industrial conglomerates are beginning to invest in drone technology too.”

So what does this mean for brands? For one thing, if you’re carried at a major retailer, the future is closer than you think. Wal-Mart, for example, is taking baby steps and testing out drone technology by using it within its distribution centers in order to tighten operations. With a custom-built camera that is able to take 30 pictures per second, the aircraft, captures images of every item to make sure they’re placed on the right shelves so as to make picking them quicker and more efficient for employees.

Amazon is also well on its way to joining the drone club with Amazon Prime Air, “A future delivery system designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, using drones.” Amazon claims to have developed more than a dozen drone designs, with testing underway in multiple international locations, including British Columbia, Canada. Other countries without the same regulations are thriving on drone technology. Chinese retailer, JD.com has taken the lead with packages being delivered via drone to a remote area of the province of Jiangsu. Even Canada Post is exploring the possibility of using drones.

Meanwhile, a 2015 U.S. consumer survey shows that 29% of respondents would pay up to $5 more for same-hour drone delivery.

So could this be the future of delivery? It’s starting to look like it – while delivery and fulfilment services continue to change year after year, whether it’s by slashing prices for overseas delivery, bringing logistics to the new age or otherwise, there’s still a ways to go. And with new methods of delivery cropping up for things like groceries and even takeout, consumer expectations are drastically changing when it comes to when, how and how quickly their packaged goods are arriving at their doorsteps.