The world is rapidly changing. Many services that were once can only be accessed by going to a brick and mortar store are now online.
Online Shopping is the Future
The number of online shoppers across the United States and around the world is growing year by year. In 2020, more people went online to procure goods. When the pandemic was announced, countries went into lockdowns. In the past several weeks, grocery shelves were emptied of the most basic household items, including toilet paper. To maintain social distancing as well as to purchase products that have sold out anywhere else, consumers turned to e-commerce sites such as Amazon.
The pandemic proved that online shopping is resilient to crisis. COVID-19 will unlikely be the last world-halting experience that will happen in the future. Aside from illnesses, there is also the threat of climate change that continues to loom over the horizon.
But, that means delivery services will also be needed. Both sellers and consumers will have to depend on delivery services to bring a product from the store’s warehouse to the buyer’s front door.
In the future, as online shopping becomes even more widespread, what will delivery services look like?
The Problem with Last-Mile Delivery
The entire process of online purchases is quite complicated. Consumers only have to click add to cart and checkout to send the item to their front door, but the product journeys from its place in the warehouse, then in the back of a truck across towns and states, and then to another vehicle to transport it to its final destination. The last mile is the delivery of the item to the consumer.
While the current process works, it is not very efficient. Right now, what logistics companies do is deliver several packages to the different drop off points along a particular route. That is why, although the package is technically “out for delivery,” it likely would not arrive at your front door today.
It is a problem especially because it ends up leaving consumers unhappy. Businesses should look into a logistics consulting service provider to streamline the process and quicken the arrival of the packages to their destination as much as possible.
The solution to Last-Mile Problem: Unmanned Deliveries
However, many companies are already looking for ways to improve last-mile deliveries. Consumers will not stop shopping online for the foreseeable future. Companies are looking for more efficient and, most importantly, cheaper ways to deliver products to the customer.
The use of drones for last-mile delivery is currently being explored. Amazon has already received the approval to use drones for unmanned package delivery. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has its own subsidiary called Wing which develops technology for drone-based freight delivery. Even UPS has its own fleet of drones.
Drones have already been deployed in the service of the public. In 2020, a public school library wanted to inspire young people to read despite the lockdown, so it partnered with Wing to deliver books to students in Christiansburg, Virginia. Residents who also signed up for the service were able to receive snacks, baking ingredients, cough medicine, and other products via drone.
Drones were effective because they are quicker. Companies can send the package straight to the customer’s door without stopping at other drop-off points or waiting for other parcels within specific routes to arrive. It also allows on-demand deliveries. Customers can request to schedule deliveries when they are at home and available to receive the package.
On the ground, companies are also testing wheeled delivery robots. In 2019, DoorDash deployed a fleet of robots to deliver food to customers in Northern California. The robots ran on sidewalks and had 360-degree cameras to see their surroundings. When the robots have arrived at their destinations, they will alert customers by sending a text message.
Machines will likely become more integrated into logistics in the future. Right now, warehouses already employ robots that aid human workers in fulfilling orders. They retrieve products from the top of a shelf and carry heavy items from one area to another. They make the process of fulfilling orders easier for the human workers and faster overall.
Logistics will become more interesting in the future as new solutions are tried and implemented. No one knows exactly whether drones will really become the future of last-mile deliveries, but technology will definitely play a bigger part in the process in the years to come. Companies should start doing research on how which solution suits them so that they can make adjustments and easily adapts to whatever technology will prevail.
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