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Drones And The Future of Ecommerce

Published on 28 April 15
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It seems that talking about drones is all the rage these days. It first started with the mention of military drones, then soon afterwards the talk shifted to domestic surveillance and the National Security Agency.

Who needs black helicopters anymore? We got drones!

Then Amazon grabbed a hold of the drone concept and steered it towards e-commerce roughly a year ago, with the announcement of Amazon Prime Air, a delivery system designed to get packages into customers' hands in a half hour or less, courtesy of drones. Of course, it's not in place yet, but the concept's particulars are being hammered out at this time. It's inevitable.

Here's how drones can potentially influence e-commerce in the years to come.
Drones And The Future of Ecommerce - Image 1
Drones Could Create A Whole New Field Of Employment
Piloting a drone is not like flying a radio-controlled model airplane. It requires trained professionals to operate the gadgets in such a way that they don't end up crashing into vehicles or people, not to mention being able to make the scheduled deliveries quickly and accurately.

Commercial drones are poised to become a whole new area of technology, and that means that there is a shortage of people who can run and maintain them. If drones take off (sorry), there will be a high demand for professionals to operate them as well as keep them running smoothly.
Drones Could Take Customer Service To A Higher Level
Amazon isn't the only business to trot out the idea of drone deliveries. Domino's Pizza demonstrated the DomiCopter, designed to deliver hot pizzas to customers using the shortest route possible, which means a fresher product. And according to the article "Drone Technology: a Tricky Take-off or the Future of Ecommerce?", Taobao and Shangai YTO Express have teamed up in China, and supposedly begun test deliveries in February.

Think of it: fast food deliveries, crucial replacement parts for appliances or cars, medications and contact lenses, and of course books and other entertainment media, all of it delivered to you in less than an hour. Provided that all of the bugs and issues are resolved, who wouldn't want to take advantage of this convenience? It would be the ultimate in instant gratification, and sure to give those companies that use them a big competitive edge.

Of course, that then means ...
Drones May End Up Being A Disaster For Smaller Companies
Putting together a fleet of drones and assembling a support team to pilot and maintain them will take resources. If you're talking about the big boys like Amazon or Domino's, then sure, they can shoulder that burden. But what about smaller companies? If drone deliveries become the norm, how will small businesses be able to keep up? And that's just considering the matter from the standpoint of smaller online businesses; what about the already beleaguered brick and mortar establishments? After the profound effect that online shopping has had on physical stores, the last thing they need is yet another innovation that makes online shopping even more attractive.
It Could Make For Greener Companies
In the ongoing efforts to go green and reduce carbon footprints, consider the effect of reduced dependence on gas-guzzling delivery trucks in favor of clean, quiet drones. All of those noisy, smelly trucks off the roads; it sounds rather nice, doesn't it? While the trucks will never go away completely, a sad fact that those of us who can't stand the impediments that these trucks pose on the roads must accept, the drones could at least put a dent in how many of those vehicles are on the road.
Still Not Here Yet
But when you get right down to it, drone deliveries are still a ways away. There are too many issues and questions that need resolving. For example, how are drones to be regulated? Do they fall under the purview of the FAA? Rules for air traffic need to be hammered out.

Then there's the whole matter of what the limitations of a drone are, particularly regarding customers who may live in more out of the way, hard to reach places. How will they be served?

It may be that someday there will be third-party companies that offer contracted drone delivery services, sort of like a FedEx for drones. Maybe the big carriers will diversify and have a drone division.

In any event, the existence of delivery drones have fired up imaginations, raised interest, and created concerns. It will be fascinating to see where the concept goes in the years to come.
This blog is listed under Development & Implementations Community

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