Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drones aren't the only way your package will be delivered in future

Amazon caused a stir earlier this month when they announced they were working on a drone that could deliver parcels directly to your door within half an hour of your order being placed. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos showed Charlie Rose from American TV news show 60 Minutes one of the drones being put to the test. Nicknamed the "Octocopter", the drones will deliver books and other small, light parcels to customers who opt for the "Prime Air" service - predicted to launch as soon as 2017.
While Amazon caught the headlines for their drone project, a revolution has been quietly going on in delivery technology over the past few years which means that we're all able to experience added convenience and speed Amazon claim their drones will deliver without the risk of being hit by an oversized toy helicopter. These innovations might seem rather mundane in comparison, but they will undoubtedly lead to more frustration free deliveries and customer satisfaction in the near term.
Make no mistake: delivery as we traditionally know it is broken. Thankfully experts and innovators from across the industry are working on fixing it, and they're closer to realising their goals than Amazon is to launching their drones. Customers report two major frustrations with deliver today: it doesn't arrive quickly enough, and when it does arrive they're not in to receive it.
While some delivery companies appear to be happy to continue with the current broken model, others have realised that future business from online retailers will require better customer satisfaction. These smart delivery companies have already fitted their fleets with a technology called telematics. Telematics has been around in different forms for several decades now, but is currently mainly used by fleets to track vehicle and driver performance. Shippers using this tech have been able to drastically reduce their fuel bills by intelligently routing deliveries based on factors such as traffic conditions, vehicle whereabouts and time left in the drivers working day. These innovations have already reduced the cost of home delivery, allowing more online stores to offer customers free delivery options.
But telematics is beginning to offer more customer convenience too. By integrating fleet tracking and package tracking, the best fleet telematics systems are now able to give customers more precise delivery times. No more worrying about popping out to the shops on the day you're parcel is due to arrive, as you'll get a text an hour before delivery informing you of precisely when your order will arrive.
While evening and weekend deliveries are also becoming a common option - typically for an extra fee - another cheaper option for those who work long hours is already taking off. Delivery lockers, placed in venues such as local shops, parking lots and even subway stations are becoming a common sight in cities across the world. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, recently announced he was closing London Underground ticket booths in order to make space for delivery lockers like these where you can even get fresh groceries delivered. While Amazon is a big player in this market, there's many startups trying to get a piece of the pie. Lockers already deployed are often over subscribed, with pent up demand by customers for the convenience they offer.

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