How the Retail Industry Rethought Delivery in 2017

Author: Rimma Kats

December 28, 2017

Drones, augmented reality and algorithms are the new normal for many retailers and logistics companies. Here’s how the retail industry changed the way they deliver goods to consumers this year. 

No. 1: Robots and AR and Algorithms, Oh My

This year, logistics companies have been leveraging different types of technology to help meet demand for fast, cheap and consumer-centric deliveries. DHL is a prime example. Not only has the company been testing robots that roam around warehouses to pick up orders, but it has also used AR and developed in-house tools using machine learning and algorithms that streamline the delivery process. Meanwhile, UPS has been using advanced package scanning and sorting technology to increase processing speed and accuracy, and FedEx has been using sensor technologies that maximize the use of trailer space during the loading process.

No. 2: Next-Day Delivery Is So 2016

Speed is a big factor in the delivery process. Nowadays, many consumers want the product they just ordered in their hands right away—as in the same day. And retailers are listening. Take Walmart—which recently acquired Parcel, a New York-based same-day and last-mile delivery startup—to provide same-day deliveries of general merchandise as well as fresh and frozen groceries from both Walmart and its unit. Then there’s Target, which earlier this year acquired Grand Junction—which offers a marketplace that connects retailers, distributors and third-party logistics providers with a network of more than 700 carriers—to help meet demand for speedy delivery. Overall, more than half of retailers in North America offer same-day delivery, according to a study from BRP (Boston Retail Partners). By comparison, just 16% offered the service in 2016. 

No. 3: Attack of the Drones?

Drones are one solution that many are looking at when it comes to delivering products in a speedy manner. But while there’s enthusiasm for this type of delivery mechanism, there’s also doubt.

A study from Field Agent found that roughly two-thirds of US smartphone users polled in January 2017 said they were concerned with the security of their packages delivered via drone, and 27% feared that the drones would bother their neighbors. Theft concerns and damaged packages were also among their worries.