Drones have arrived, and they’re here to stay.
Commercial drones already exist, and businesses are snatching them up in anticipation of a new age in product delivery.
By now, you may have already seen Amazon’s groundbreaking promo on 60 Minutes about their upcoming, drone-fulfilled shipping service, Amazon Air. Amazon says they’re ready to start delivering packages via their own drones. All they’re waiting for is updated regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At the moment, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can only be used legally by hobbyists flying below a certain altitude.
Before the world is ready for drone delivery, government regulations will need to ensure that UAVs have mandatory safety features to keep them from injuring people en-route to their destinations. It might be a while before commercial UAVs are permitted to deliver packages to consumers. Even so, no company wants to be left behind.
Amazon is already promising deliveries via drone to locations near their warehouses in under 30 minutes once Amazon Air launches. They will only be able to deliver packages under five pounds, though over 80 percent of Amazon orders already fit the weight limit.
Amazon is not the only company getting a head start. Australian textbook rental company Zookal is also early to the retail drone game, testing book deliveries over short distances. Domino’s released a video of the maiden voyage of their “Domicopter,” an aerial vehicle that will deliver hot, cheesy pizza to customers’ doorsteps.
How Will Drones Change E-Commerce?
If and when government regulations allow commercial UAVs to fly, Amazon will likely be the leader in drone delivery. It won’t be long before other online retailers catch up.
Cost is a major motivation for businesses to adopt drone delivery. At the moment, hobbyists can purchase a basic model for just a few hundred bucks. Commercial UAVs will be a one-time investment of about a few thousand dollars, so businesses of all sizes will be able to easily afford them.
UAVs have immense advantages over delivery trucks. Drones don’t need a salary, and they don’t get stuck in traffic. Most of them are powered by rechargeable batteries. Large items will still need to be shipped with traditional methods, however.
Difficult returns are still a major turn-off for online shoppers. If customers can quickly return unwanted items by sending them back with the company’s drone, they’ll feel more confident about making purchases that might not work out.
Customers will have myriad reasons for choosing drone delivery. At first, for the novelty of it, then, for the speed and convenience. If they can have their purchase in under an hour, customers will be even more likely to shop from home than ever before.
It’s going to be just as exciting for business owners to watch their products fly off to their new homes as it will be for customers to watch the unpiloted vehicles land on their lawn. If you’d like to learn more about UAVs and drones for the future of your business, contact us for more information.