Several companies are running interesting experiments to change the way goods will be delivered in the future and to find the perfect delivery algorythm. Let’s have a look at some remarkable tests. If you are used to the postman, be sure the future of deliveries is going to change.
Amazon project Prime Air is about delivering via drones. The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customer’s hands in about 30 minutes or less. They think it will take some years to roll out and get an Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration about the rules. The point is that drones cannot carry anything heavy so at best the opportunities are limited.
DHL recently announced it is launching a new drone delivery service to get “urgently needed goods,” such as life-saving medicines, to certain remote locations; they tested the service to connect Juist, an island in Germany’s North Sea, where more traditional delivery options (such as ferries or trains) aren’t always available. The drone can carry loads of up to 2.6 pounds (1.2 kilograms). The drone itself weighs 11 pounds (5 kg), according to DHL.
Amazon also tested package delivery by licensed cab in San Francisco and Los Angeles using taxi-hailing mobile app Flywheel, last autumn. The retail giant is studying the broader use of taxis as delivery vehicles. The logic of using a taxi appears brilliant and probably at an acceptable cost, especially to manage peaks period like Xmas and goes into the direction of same-day dispatch. The agreement was quite simple, the cab was loaded with as many as 10 packages bound for a single ZIP Code, paying about $5 a package for delivery within one hour.
This idea leads immediately to crowdsourcing in my mind. A car can be a taxi, can be Uber, can be any private Citizen. Just to give you an idea, Wal-Mart Stores Inc is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers. For sure the project will have to face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles but it’s clearly in the radar of the management. Such was the inspiration of RideShip, a Norwalk startup which launched in February a service to match shippers and couriers according to travel dates and itineraries. This type of delivery opens to questions about damages, privacy, delays and safety but if assisted by any central service it clearly works.
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The “old” idea of the dropbox revamped. A dropbox is nothing new, but the idea of accessing your delivery in a place close to your home address with a code sent to your mobile when you purchased the good, as if the box is a sort of parcel ATM is relatively recent. Outside US some towns, like Turin in Italy, are experiment it massively. Another experiment is happening in Milan with lockers located in petrol stations. The downside of those parcel boxes is that they could be considered an eyesore as well as becoming a target for vandalism, and there is also an issue over the volume of the boxes, which would not be suitable for the delivery of larger items.
Volvo has proposed an innovative solution to reduce missed deliveries using a car as a secure storage area. If your delivery company knows where your car is parked, and for instance you’re at the cinema or at the restaurant, the courier can leave your parcel in your vehicle by using a one-time digital access key. The Volvo On Call technology already allows owners to unlock, open the trunk, and lock their car from a smartphone or tablet, and Roam Delivery would create a temporary digital key for couriers to access a Volvo car. With the service, an online shopper would place an order and choose “car” for the delivery option. Obviously there might be concerns over security if strangers could access your vehicle, so the big barrier Volvo will have to overcome is trust.
I also want to consider the 3D Printing future as a delivery system. For some kind of products I won’t even need to go in store, I will simply select what I want, purchase the codex and a set of printing instructions will go straight to my 3D hardware and let me have the object. Now this could work for simple objects, but we are in the early stages of the technology, so who knows exactly how it will develop. This solution could be a potential killer for social relationships and will move online piracy from intangibles (music, video, books etc…) to physical objects. How you will be sure that my 3D printed Prada shoes are authentic?
If you’re trying to figure out which method is going to win in the future, my answer is all of them. The reality is that couriers, e-commerce websites and brick-and-mortar businesses are searching for the perfect delivery algorythm; it means that a software will them for every order what is the best solution and depending on the product, the client, the period of the year, the status of the traffic and many other parameters it might be a taxi cab, the standard postal system, a drone or other futuristic solutions.
Newsletter: because there’s much more than the future of deliveries here!
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