Will Drones Transform Customer Delivery Expectations?

Can you remember back to December 2013 when Amazon announced that they were exploring the idea of drone deliveries? Many people thought that Amazon was joking. Others thought that it was a publicity stunt. The announcement got endless media coverage for Amazon that’s true, but nobody really seemed to know if it was a genuine research project.

Yet here we are in 2016 and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is working on trials in the UK with Amazon for drone deliveries. The CAA is particularly interested in monitoring that drones operating beyond the line-of-sight of the operator are safe and how unexpected obstacles can also be dealt with.

Amazon is also innovating inside the field of drone operation as the drone operators will be flying more than one vehicle simultaneously. This initially sounds dangerous, but I assume that they fly on autopilot to the delivery destination and only require human intervention when the sensors are unsure about a situation.

From the information that Amazon has released it sounds like both they and the CAA are taking detailed steps towards making drone delivery a reality in the UK. When it happens Amazon customers will be offered the delivery of physical products within 30 minutes of ordering.

Deliveries within 30 minutes of placing an order…

Can you imagine that? I remember when mail order products often stated ‘please wait 28 days for delivery’. Amazon shook up consumer expectations first with their promise of next-day delivery and then same-day delivery. Now we might soon be measuring delivery times in minutes, not days.

It’s exciting that Amazon is so far down the road to making this a reality that the CAA is conducting field trials. They have always innovated and created new customer service expectations – this is no different.

Once Amazon can deliver physical products within minutes how will other major retailers react? They surely need to explore their own drone fleets to create a faster delivery system because as we have seen in many other areas of the brand to customer interface, once one brand makes something possible, customers then expect this level of service. The bar will be raised for everyone, making deliveries that take several days seem unacceptably slow.

What do you think of the Amazon drone idea and what do you think might happen if many more retailers start using drones? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn here.
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Photo by Mauricio Lima licensed under Creative commons.

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