Historically, the retail business has relied on transportation innovations for major advances, as tech analyst Horace Dediu pointed out in a recent podcast.
Railways ushered in the era of order-by-catalogue shopping, the first threat to local retail. They made Sears, Roebuck & Co. a giant.
Trolleys and subways brought customers to the first urban department stores and shopping arcades.
Cars spurred the growth of strip malls and gigantic suburban shopping centres.
And e-commerce would never have been possible without modern air and ground shipping.
Now, Amazon and its competitors understand the next big winner in retail will be the company that pioneers the next phase in the logistics race.
That’s why Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his drone delivery research program, Prime Air, on TV news program “60 Minutes” — to position his online retail empire as the leading innovator. But UPS, FedEx, Google, and others have also been developing delivery drones.
In a new in-depth report, BI Intelligence looks at the technologies, government policies, and entrepreneurial activity collectively pushing to make UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) available for retail, and business applications generally. Government regulators in Europe and the U.S. are surprisingly keen on helping usher in the commercial drone era — and in a limited fashion, commercial drones are already a reality.
In full, the report:
- Explains why Amazon’s plan for mini-UAVs that deliver small packages ordered online is far from the only model for UAVs in retail.
- Local retailers could develop their own UAV fleets. Terrestrial car-like drones could do street deliveries, and giant UAVs could fly between distribution centres.
- Discusses why retail UAVs will make retail more efficient, help e-commerce players compete with bricks-and-mortar stores, and also accelerate the instant-delivery race.
- Outlines the state of drones in terms of U.S. regulations and explains when civil aviation authorities expect to begin allowing commercial drones to fly at a large-scale
- Sizes the market for drones and how much spending will go towards drones over the next 10 years
- Discusses which industries other than retail are most likely to embrace drones and how drones could change the way these businesses function
- Identifies the key manufacturers that will be working to upgrade their parts and technology to make them suitable for drones
- Underscores the steep safety and privacy concerns facing commercial drones
Commercial Drones On The Horizon
Find out why drones will soon begin taking on much larger roles for businesses and some individual consumers.
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Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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