A race against (delivery) time: Who will win?

sectors: Retail

It’s no secret that everyone is becoming conditioned to the benefits of immediacy. Our expectations are for things to happen now. From post, to our Uber Eats delivery, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it.

There is a distinct expectation from customers for 24/7 brand access; essentially, stores should never close. Providing information, product details and checkout, people need instant access from the comfort of their own home. For this reason, most modern brands have an e-commerce channel to suit to their time-hungry, on-the-go customers.

But, with the rise of e-commerce, comes the rise of competition. Brands are battling it out to see who can win the delivery race. The shoppers of today are not willing to wait. They order a table today, they want it today, or tomorrow at the latest.

A recent study found that the amount of time people are willing to wait for free shipping has dropped from 5.5 days in 2012 to 4.5 days. Perks like in-store pickup, same-day delivery and free 2-day shipping are all becoming the norm.

According to PSFK, a retail intelligence firm, 82% of consumers say they are much more likely to purchase from a brand that offers multiple delivery options. It’s not just fast delivery that people are hungry for, it’s variable, precise delivery times too, so their delivery can be perfectly timed to their schedule.

“82% of consumers say they are much more likely to purchase from a brand that offers multiple delivery options”

But people can only do so much, right? That’s where the robots come in. Despite the hoax Amazon drone delivery service that was announced just before Black Friday (2018), the idea of robots delivering parcels is not new.

Retailers looking to differentiate themselves from competitors are on the hunt for new delivery methods. Could ground-based robots be the answer?

Amazon, being the pioneer for fast delivery, is launching Amazon Scout. At the size of a small cooler, the six-wheeled robots can roll along streets following a delivery route and safely avoid pets, pedestrians and other obstacles in their way.

But they aren’t the first to do it. Starships Technology, a robotics startup with a London-based HQ, deployed food delivery robots in the US and Europe and became a popular delivery service for Silicon Valley workers.

Image courtesy of the Guardian

Partnering up with the Co-op in Milton Keynes towards the end of 2018, Starships Technology now offers an unlimited monthly subscription for £7.99. Residents of the area can order their groceries from the Co-op and get them delivered straight to their door by a self-driving robot.

Handling jobs that most delivery drivers don’t want, such as small orders within a small radius, Starships technology argues that their robots won’t compete with delivery drivers’ jobs.

This kind of technological innovation is set to grow well into 2019 as businesses explore new tactics to elevate their delivery service and separate themselves from their competitors.


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