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GUEST COMMENT Drones in retail – the futuristic methods shoppers are demanding to tackle delivery issues


Over the last few years, consumers have been experiencing a multitude of challenges in the retail space. From supply chain and warehouse issues to increased delivery prices and impedes, retailers must enhance the shopping experience they provide to consumers, as customers are expecting more, writes Stefan Spendrup, VP of sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI.

Stefan Spendrup, VP of sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI

When it comes to delivery processes, traditional methods are now facing several issues. Inflation is causing businesses to increase delivery charges so consumers can receive their packages on time. Recently, online brand ASOS increased the minimum spend for Premier members to secure next day delivery from £10 to £15 – which frustrated many of its consumers. Changes like these reflect the challenges being faced by businesses globally as they attempt to battle rising costs across the supply chain.

However, such changes encourage new shopping habits. Data from SOTI’s 2023 retail report, The Tech Effect: Strengthening the Omnichannel to Meet Consumer Demands, echoes consumer pain points, their post-pandemic preferences and where they expect improvements in the hybrid shopping experience. Unprecedented times for retail and the transportation and logistics (T&L) industry mean shoppers are facing unreliable and unpredictable deliveries for products purchased online.

As a result, new data shows that consumers are turning to alternative, in some cases more futuristic delivery methods as a way of controlling how and when they receive their packages. The report found that 33% of shoppers said delivery times have been slower than usual, with 34% stating delivery has become more expensive.

SOTI’s 2022 retail report found that 53% of shoppers agreed that shipping and delivery times are the most frustrating aspects of ordering online. Supply chain issues are causing consumers to lose faith in traditional delivery methods. With the constant stream of issues arising, retailers will experience lack of consumer loyalty if they don’t take quick action to enhance the omni-channel experience.

However, supply chain issues are stopping consumers from ordering online. In the 2023 report, 46% of UK consumers would consider delivery drones as an option to receive their small packages, and 53% state they would consider autonomous vehicles as an option to receive their larger packages. The rise in popularity of technologically advanced delivery methods suggests they could provide a solution in tackling disrupted delivery processes.

Drone and autonomous delivery methods may appear farfetched for some, but there are reasons behind them. Drones give shoppers much more control over deliveries, particularly when it comes to timings and arrivals, as well as collection for returns.

Control and flexibility are the two factors driving changes in consumers’ shopping habits. This fact is reflected in SOTI’s 2023 retail report as 75% of shoppers said they would consider buying online and picking up purchases in-store. When shoppers go and collect products themselves, it completely removes issues caused by deliveries like increased charges or delayed delivery.

The heightened consumer demands place increasing pressure on retailers, logistic partners and suppliers to ensure they are providing high-quality, inexpensive alternative delivery methods. Consumers are increasingly accepting of technology and digital processes, including using drones and autonomous vehicles to deliver their packages. As a result, businesses must have the right infrastructure and digital backend in place so customers remain informed and can access data during every step of the delivery process. As the retail sector evolves, retailers must streamline and innovate their business processes to preserve and grow their customer base.

Stefan Spendrup, VP of sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI

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