Drone delivery pros and cons: Consumers have concerns about the technology

GlobalData Retail 15 April 2019 (Last Updated December 23rd, 2019 09:25)

In a world-first, commercial drone delivery will be launched in Australia, which will have pivotal implications for the future of retail globally.

Drone delivery pros and cons: Consumers have concerns about the technology
JD.com and Rakuten will offer unmanned delivery services for various applications and situations in Japan. Credit: JD.com.

In a world-first, commercial drone delivery will be launched in Australia, which will have pivotal implications for the future of retail globally.

Wing, a sister company of Google, received formal approval this week to deliver selected goods such as coffee, ice cream and medication to eligible suburbs in Australia’s capital city of Canberra, after years of trials.

Only around 100 homes will be eligible for deliveries in the first phase before an expected wider rollout of the scheme.

Direct-to-consumer drone delivery is already on the verge of being implemented by e-commerce giants Amazon and China-based JD.com, while Domino’s Pizza has already rolled out test flights of pizza delivery with a view to making it a viable option for order fulfilment.

The seemingly futuristic delivery concept offers a number of benefits for both retailers and shoppers. Bypassing ground transportation allows for greater route flexibility which can facilitate faster delivery for time-sensitive orders, or more efficient delivery to rural or inaccessible areas.

Similarly, delivery addresses can become less rigid, allowing for literal “anywhere, anytime” shopping.

Furthermore, reducing reliance on delivery vehicles has environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and less roadway congestion.

Still, consumers are currently divided on the issue.

According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q4 global consumer survey, just under half (47%) of global consumers consider it appealing to have online orders delivered by automated devices such as drones or driverless cars. Significantly, one-third considers the concept to be explicitly unappealing.

This divergence of opinion is understandable, and speaks to the convenience-privacy paradox that defines our connected culture.

While the unquestionable convenience of faster deliveries is a tempting prospect for online shoppers, the idea of drones flying over houses, playgrounds and schools at any time of day is obviously not.

As retailers find more ways to make shopping more efficient, enjoyable and affordable, consumers must increasingly consider the price they pay in privacy.