Drone Delivery To Spur Purchasing Decisions Among One-Third Of Online Shoppers

The idea of a drone swooping in with last night’s Amazon purchase has fans among online shoppers. A survey from ratings and review site Clutch found that 36 percent of online shoppers say they are more likely to purchase an item if they know it will be delivered by drone. They’re attracted to drones’ potential time and cost savings, but questions remain regarding damage to packages or theft during delivery.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of online shoppers say that a drone delivery option would not impact their purchasing decision and 25 percent would be less likely to order an item delivered by drone. Several companies are working on drone delivery technology in 2020, including Amazon, Google’s parent company Alphabet, in partnership with FedEx, and UPS. Alphabet’s subsidiary Wing Aviation began testing a commercial drone delivery program in Christiansburg, Virginia, this year.

Online shoppers said they are most excited about drone delivery’s potential of being faster (33 percent) and cheaper (21 percent) than other shipping methods. Experts say neither of those options may be consistently true, though. Millie Radovic, market analyst at Drone Industry Insights, a market research and analytics company, said that drone delivery will likely be a more expensive option until companies can scale their programs.

“Drones will offer a higher-end … option for deliveries,” says Radovic. “Drones will improve those delivery times further, bypassing traffic congestion or queues of deliveries.”

Whether drone delivery is faster than other shipping methods depends on many factors, though, including the location of warehouses, airspace restrictions and weather. Dan Khasis, founder and CEO of Route4Me, a route optimization software provider, said strong winds or severe weather can severely impact drones’ capabilities.

“How do you incorporate a headwind?” says Khasis. “Is it going to reduce the possible efficiency [of the drone] by 40-50 percent on that specific date? Will you have to go back because it’s too windy, rainy or snowy?”

Online shoppers are most anxious about drones damaging packages during delivery (20 percent), getting stolen or hacked (19 percent), or replacing jobs (18 percent). Companies are reportedly testing to minimize potential package damage from drones, and package theft is an increasingly common issue for all delivery methods. Scheduling drone delivery times or allowing for delivery to a consumer’s real-time location is seen as way to minimize issues.

In regards to drones replacing jobs, Radovic adds, “Vans are still far cheaper and more effective means of delivery than using a drone.”

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