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Technology-Fueled Delivery Trends Could Change Shopping As We Know It

Some might have thought the Internet would kill personal delivery; in reality, it’s revolutionized it.

A wider variety of goods can be delivered faster than ever before, and it’s changing the entire economy and structure of consumer distribution.

Delivery has already changed dramatically: where you once had to wait seven business days for an order, now you can get it the same day. Where you once had to go out to find and purchase niche items, today you can get them delivered to you door with the click of an app.

Essentially, say goodbye to pants, and hello to semi-instant gratification at your doorstep.

The game changers

Delivery continues to become more streamlined, personalized, and sophisticated each year. Here are some of the key aspects contributing to such changes:

Subscription e-commerce

[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”2WEMWZgvkfnHzUvu0QsLRPpnuSNcuUrj”]E-commerce itself has already had remarkable impact on mailing services like the USPS. While email and online bill-pay has reduced paper and first class mail delivery, the Postal Services has profited off rises in package delivery.

But where e-commerce behemoths like Amazon have become the norm, recent years have seen the growth of a new field: niche subscription e-commerce services, which deliver products right to your door by providing convenient bundles, low-cost samples, or even product trials.

Where such services were isolated before, a startup called Cratejoy now allows entrepreneurs and small businesses a platform to curate their own box services by providing easy and responsive web templates anyone can use.

The delivery middlemen

Local food delivery has been a staple of lazy Friday nights for ages, but it’s only been as recently as GrubHub and Seamless (launched separately in the early 2000s; merged in 2013) that consumers have been able to order from local restaurants without in-house delivery, all from one website.

Now, online ordering goes beyond just food delivery. Consumers can order just about anything a la carte, from groceries, to convenience-store items, to pet care products, to textbooks. You’ve got also got laundry delivery, ice cream delivery, and even alcohol and weed.

These services typically work as middlemen to local businesses, which is advantageous for all parties involved.

Consumer drone delivery

Companies including Amazon, Google, and Alibaba have dreamed up unmanned aerial deliveries in hopes of offering drone delivery services in the near future. It’s even been tested on a limited basis in China.

So far, such goals haven’t been feasible in the U.S. due to strict bans on commercial drones put forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA). But the FAA recently softened its stance, issuing Amazon an “experimental airworthiness certificate,” which will allow the company to move forward with testing on home soil.

The future of drone delivery may be a bit more complicated. Though in theory, delivery drones could cost delivery workers jobs, it likely won’t be anytime soon — and there will probably always be places and packages only humans can handle.

Looking forward

For urban homebodies, startups, and corporations, new delivery trends hold great promise, not to mention venture capital interest.

The USPS, on the other hand, faces its own set of issues — mostly based mostly on a decline in paper mail, as well as other financial and political challenges. But the USPS can embrace technology to its advantage; a deal with Amazon and other efforts to test the waters of technology show some promise.

Private mail services like UPS and FedEx are in similar boats: attempting to lean into innovation, instead of being overcome by it.

The only caveat? Those outside of major cities are, for now, shut out of the revolution to some extent. Hard-to-reach areas, however, could benefit hugely from drone delivery in the future.

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Jennifer Markert