Drone Deliveries Could Solve Supply Chains’ “Last Mile”

Market pressures incentivize adding more automation to online shopping. Drone deliveries could be the next frontier.

In 2016, Amazon Prime Air was developed as an autonomous drone delivery service. For orders weighing less than 5 lbs and customers within 10 miles of a participating fulfillment centre, a drone could fly a package direct to the customer within 30 minutes.

This ambitious new program has yet to be launched on a large scale, but could represent the frontier of the online shopping space. A product’s “last mile” from manufacturer to customer is often the most expensive part of the journey, accounting for up to 41% of overall transportation costs. The potential to automate this “last mile” is a big deal.

For retailers, incorporating drones for the last mile could bypass 3rd party logistics companies, reduce delivery times, avoid traffic delays and potentially cut costs in the long term. It also offers the opportunity for a more customizable delivery time window.

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