The Drones are Coming..
The unveiling of Amazon's delivery "drones" on 60 Minutes has left heads spinning. If the drones can one day do what they are claimed capable of, it will mean delivery of goods ordered online in 30 minutes or under. If it were available now, viewers of that 60 minute special could have had something ordered and delivered to their doorstep before the program was over. Maybe even parts for their own delivery drone. The sight of drones dropping packages off as people walk their dogs conjures up images of the Jetson's - the future is here.
But what does that future world look like? Because like any ecosystem, the introduction of a new organism means a ripple of changes, and for brick and mortar retailers, these drones might take on the shape of a predator.
We've already seen the changes online services are having on retailers. Big Box models are downsizing, more emphasis is being placed on perishable goods, banks are closing branches due to the spread of online banking. However, brick and mortal retailers still have a key advantage - if a consumer wants a good NOW, the only option is to visit a store. And since many consumers impulse buy, just being in a store surrounded by other products could lead to more sales. In other words, the balance in the battle between lazily staying at home, ordering online but having to wait anywhere from a day to a week to get the product versus going out of the house, maybe into traffic and retail lines but getting the product now may fundamentally shift. Customers could be lazy and get their goods.
And things can get even more lazy. Customers could soon have automated grocery lists delivered to their doorstep every week. Even laundry could potentially be drone lifted away and brought back at appointed times.
No doubt, this is still a fantasy - a potential future but not yet close to guaranteed. But it is an example where the growing trend of huge centralized distribution centers and more direct to customer strategy could lead us.
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