Has a drone come knocking on your door to deliver the product that you ordered online? Not yet? Be prepared – with the Indian government finalising draft on Civil Aviation Requirements on drones, this could very well happen pretty soon. We are not talking about the stuff of the future, it could even happen early next year. Several e-commerce courier services are keen on exploiting the benefits of drone technology for their product shipping.
Up until April 2016, usage of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aka drones was strictly prohibited in India on accounts of concerns over security and privacy. However, the ministry of civil aviation is now set to allow the commercial use of drones as taxis and delivery vehicles, and permit their operation beyond the visual line of sight under the Drone 2.0 policy, which is likely to take effect by March 2019. This has opened new avenues for many start-ups and multi-national companies in different sectors to utilize drones/UAVs to upgrade and improve their products and services. This is especially true for logistics companies. E-commerce giant Amazon has already filed a patent in India to introduce their Amazon Prime Air delivery system in India. The drones can easily deliver products ordered through Amazon within minutes in cities minimizing shipping costs and delivery time. While Amazon is an early leader in testing drone deliveries, there are many other companies following suit.
At the moment, operators can apply for permissions and get instant approvals through a Digital Sky Platform for the use of drones for photography and recreational purposes. Drone 2.0 regulations will enable us to cross three important thresholds all at once. One, beyond visual line of sight; two, payloads; and three, automation. This will open up drone delivery, it will open up passengers drones and a whole host of other application as well.
The customer benefit with drone delivery is obvious – faster deliveries at a fraction of costs. Apart from that, the opportunities for businesses are also huge. Here are a few ways drones will change the Indian e-commerce courier service and shipping process.
- Faster Deliveries
A well-planned and well-structured drone delivery plan could lower the delivery time for individual packages and have a positive impact on the environment. Considering the fact that the consumers have a strong preference for immediate deliveries, drone delivery could turn out to be a huge success. This is also true for returns and claims as well. When it comes to smooth returns, e-commerce retailers are still struggling to maintain a seamless process. Drones have the potential to streamline this part of the shipping by providing a rather quicker alternative than what is available at present.
- Inventory Management
Apart from home deliveries using drones, other areas where drones can be used in the logistics process is in the inventory management and supply chain delivery. While home drone deliveries receive most of the public attention and focus, using drones to make deliveries in the supply chain can make the fulfilment process smooth and increase the efficiency of your shipping. For this, you might have to rely on heavy-duty drone models which are already in the development stage. In this case, the larger drones can even travel between different warehouses transporting several items from one warehouse to another. This way you can easily cater to the regional and local demand while equalizing the inventory levels in regional warehouses.
- Store to Consumer
Drones are supposed to revolutionize short-range delivery for e-commerce courier services by delivering packages especially in urban areas subverting highly unpredictable traffic. The last mile of delivery process is apparently the most expensive and inefficient part of the shipping and drone technology could help speed up the whole process. However, drones will have to be used in conjunction with the existing ground delivery vehicles. This is primarily because issues such as safety, privacy and safety concerns will continue to be challenges and therefore traditional delivery methods cannot be fully replaced instantaneously.
- Logistics in Urban areas to Benefit more
In today’s e-commerce industry, time is money. Which means the faster you deliver, or clear the return requests, the more you benefit. With drone technology, product deliveries can happen in less than 30 minutes in urban regions. With strategically placed multiple warehouses in metros, e-commerce companies can cover every inch of the city and offer 30 minutes deliveries for popular products. This would be especially helpful during festive seasons and big sale days.
- Impact on Specific Product type will be Different
Faster last-mile delivery can have a significant impact on the shipment of a certain type of products. These industries can benefit majorly by using drone deliveries for their shipping requirements. These include pharmaceuticals, non-perishable consumer goods and fresh food and beverages. E-commerce courier services that handle these industries will be keen on adopting drone technology for faster deliveries.
With drone technology entering the shipping process, the possibilities are endless. Saving the time of both the customers and the company, e-commerce retailers can ensure maximum benefit from their business. For more efficient shipping and fulfilment process, the futuristic e-commerce players are looking at deep technology and intelligent logistics solutions for faster and more well-organized sorting of packages at warehouses, route optimization, enabling better address matching and much more.
With increased competition, the main differentiator for e-commerce companies is how they provide exceptional customer experience while reducing costs at scale. By adopting drone technology for logistics, businesses are aiming at reduced human dependencies through automation. This consequently leads to effective management of operations, reducing costs and taking shipping to the next level.
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StoreHippo is India’s leading e-commerce platform providing end-to-end solutions for e-commerce entrepreneurs. We always have an eye on the latest trends in e-commerce and our team is keenly watching the progress of drone technology in India. as the future unfolds and drone deliveries become more real, we hope to onboard logistics partners that will offer these services to e-retailers and merchants. Want to know more about us? Leave your comments below or drop us a mail. We reply soon!