The Future Of Parcel Delivery

It’s enough to make your skin turn green and your bottom half sport a considerably tighter pair of trousers. Everyone knows exactly what it’s like to stay at home waiting for a parcel delivery or an engineer to turn up, and with a designated date and a window of up to four hours, the decision is often made to take a day off work. So you wait in all day to find the item either turns up at the 11th hour or simply doesn’t arrive. Unfortunately this is not uncommon and given the innovation and time put into creating efficient and robust supply chains and CRM’s you have to wonder why this still happens?

Fear not though, because according to Amazon, a world where unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) deliver packages as frequently as pizzas are eaten isn’t far away. Amazon says it’s ready to fly deliveries by drone with their ‘Prime Air’ service as soon as federal rules allow, with a goal of delivering orders in 30 minutes. So what would this mean for the likes of us who aren’t in the habit of staying at home all day to receive the new cushion set you bought your mother off eBay?

Well, drones have the potential to lower cost, environmental impact, traffic congestion on the roads, and delivery time windows whilst increasing tracking capabilities, precision scheduling, and our ability to get to places that are difficult for us to reach in person. All sounds pretty good, but with the endless scenarios being batted around of how secure your package would be (and the drone) if it were delivered at the door step in a particularly dubious area, it begs the question – would it really work?

Safety concerns are also on the agenda for drone sceptics, as no one wants to see a drone plummeting to earth towards the nearest bus stop full of pedestrians due to a technical failure. Additionally, there’s also the question of designated delivery spots, weather contingency plans, consumer awareness and so on.

So it seems there are still many technical and regulatory hurdles Amazon will need to overcome before Prime Air takes flight, but with efficient packing, a fast turnaround, and more precise scheduling on the cards, drones could potentially take over from delivery trucks as an alternative to ground logistics. Amazon’s Vice President Paul Misener has echoed this by stating:

“Not only do we think our customers will love this service, we believe it will benefit society more broadly. Once operational, Prime Air will increase the overall safety and efficiency of the current ground transportation system, by allowing people to skip the quick trip to the store or by reducing package deliveries by truck or car”.

In conclusion, innovation is key to improving and progressing delivery, particularly in more rural areas which can be difficult to reach. Whilst delivery firms are still at times unable to fully meet their own deadlines for delivery, it looks like there is a need for alternative solutions and a mixture of both ground and air based delivery processes, indeed, in the near future you might just be seeing your groceries appearing by air.