drone at sunset

Ecommerce & Drones: What The Future Holds

By Victoria Greene – @vickyecommerce

The ecommerce industry is one area that really stands to benefit from the increased use of drones in our society, especially when it comes to logistical evolution. As drones become easier to control and are given greater levels of autonomy by legislators, their commercial uses will only continue to increase. The future of drones and ecommerce is bright and promising. Here are a few things that we might be able to expect in the years to come, from same-day deliveries across the globe to drone-based photography services.

drone at sunset

Used By Big Businesses

Drones are already used by businesses like Amazon, who plans to have 80-90% of its deliveries fulfilled by drones in future. As the technology becomes more prevalent, more and more businesses are going to start doing the same. Amazon is a huge industry influencer and if it comes up with a new initiative, you can be sure that everyone else will be vying for a slice of the pie. Amazon has the ability to wield its enormous influence and purchase power, but eventually drone delivery should trickle out to smaller retailers and brands too. (It’s predicted that a lot of large businesses will pay for their drones by renting them out).

Drones Powering the Future of Delivery

The more that drones are used, the more convenient home deliveries will be. Consider the following ways in which drones will impact the delivery experience across the globe:

  • Same-day delivery is something some Amazon already offers and it’s only going to become more popular — drones will help drive this trend and eventually same day will go down to delivery within hours. Shopify’s recent partnership with Uber is a great example of how ecommerce companies are constantly innovating in order to cut down delivery times and costs — whether that’s with drones or Ubers!
  • Drones will initially be expensive to purchase, but once businesses have them, the cost of delivery will go down as their maintenance will be cheaper than postal service costs. Eventually postal services and delivery couriers will also use drones for delivery— normalizing their use and consolidating flight routes to minimize disruption
  • With drones easily able to fly to specific addresses, the number of parcels misdelivered as a result of human error will decrease significantly. People living in remote areas are already benefitting from medical drones, and commerce will soon follow
  • Weekend deliveries will become increasingly common: Sunday deliveries will no longer be so rare as there will be less need for human labor

Quality Of Life Improvements

It’s easy to think about the ways in which the average consumer will benefit from the ecommerce application of drones, but it’s no exaggeration to say that their use will actually mean a genuine improvement in the quality of life for some people. Here are some examples:

  • If somebody is suffering from a chronic illness, drone deliveries will help to ensure that they can get the treatments they need. Currently, somebody might have a fair wait on their hands before they can get hold of their medicine if they forget to ask for a repeat prescription
  • Drones can help vulnerable communities and roadless areas get access to crucial supplies, even during times of conflict
  • In less extreme situations, if somebody found that they had a splitting headache and there were no painkillers in the house (for example), a drone could get it to them much more quickly than any other method
  • Food could be delivered to most locations much more quickly and much more easily. Many less mobile people already depend upon home delivery services for their food and the better these services become, the better the quality of life will be for these people

Drone-Related Services

While home delivery is the main area in which drones will be useful, there’ll also be some room for specialist drone-related services. We have already touched on the B2B application, with larger businesses renting out their drones to smaller businesses in order to get a return on their investment, but drones can provide further services to benefit the average consumer.

  • Photographers are using drones in order to create pieces of aerial photography that would otherwise have not been possible. People are already selling drone photography and footage, and this is an area of photography that’s likely to grow
  • Farmers will be able to purchase drone services to keep their crops watered and free of pests
  • People might soon be able to pay for drone security services A business could easily provide a drone monitoring system and a customer could pay and handle it all online. If it’s taking in CCTV footage, that footage could be tied to an account on an ecommerce website, which the user simply logs in to access. It could also easily be provided as a subscription service

The Future Is Uncertain

While we can hazard a guess that drones will be used for X, Y and Z, we can never be entirely sure about what will catch on with the general populace. There are probably some innovators out there right now, working on some drone applications that nobody else has even considered yet! Equally, the next big scientific breakthrough could occur and leave drones obsolete. You always have to take predictions about the future with a pinch of salt.

What we’re seeing is that the commercial use of drones is becoming increasingly widespread. The benefits of using drones are obvious and it’s all a matter of accessibility. As soon as they are within the reach of smaller businesses, you’ll almost certainly be seeing a lot more drone deliveries and drone-related services out there. It could really revolutionize the ecommerce world. Which drone applications are you most excited about?  

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant

I work with ecommerce businesses & marketing teams to create content and targeted digital strategies. To succeed at what I do, I always have to be looking to the future and trying to figure out how things are going to change and evolve. Never a dull moment!

Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

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