Remember waiting weeks for a package to arrive after ordering it? That’s a foreign concept to most consumers now, but there was a time when it was the only option.
One brand that has significantly ramped up delivery possibilities is Amazon. It’s undoubtedly a leading online retailer, and competitors know that to remain profitable, they have to keep up and offer similar innovations for their customers.
Making Home Deliveries More Secure
In markets offering Amazon’s Prime Now service, customers receive their orders within two hours. To make that timeframe feasible, Amazon uses numerous delivery methods, including third-party couriers.
Sometimes, customers aren’t home when their packages arrive, but a new feature called Amazon Key lets people remotely unlock their doors to allow a delivery person to enter, plus streams video footage of the event and gives a notification when doors are locked again.
However, some users raised concerns about how the app gives automatic access to the camera feature and door-locking functionality when it opens. To address that issue, Amazon launched a fingerprint authentication feature that prevents unauthorized access. It’s currently only available for Android phones, though.
Planning the Use of Highly Advanced Drones
Amazon has been testing delivery drones intended for a future service called Prime Air, which would let people get packages weighing less than 30 pounds in a half-hour. When the initial news broke about that development, people understandably wondered about potential safety risks.
A recent patent application for an Amazon drones shows it may include components that respond to gestures and audible cues, both of which could reduce the potential danger by allowing people on the ground to communicate with the unmanned flying vehicles.
Fostering Convenience in the E-Commerce and Delivery Marketplaces
Amazon now has physical bookstores in several U.S. cities, as well as Amazon Go, a convenience store without cashiers that allows consumers to walk out with their purchases and get billed for them later. Regardless, people still primarily think of the company as specializing in online orders.
The rise of Amazon has also triggered other companies to figure out the most appropriate ways to facilitate ordering things on a computer or with an app and getting them delivered to a preferred address. The future of convenience is here, and Amazon propelled it.
For example, there’s Postmates, a company that uses local couriers to bring you anything item you want — from a tray of cold cuts to a pair of high-end earbuds — for a flat monthly membership fee covering delivery costs.
Not feeling up to going to the grocery store for meal ingredients? Blue Apron brings the necessities for dinner to your door, along with step-by-step preparation instructions.
It’s also easier than ever to buy the other goodies you crave. Sincerely Nuts sends fresh, healthy products to your home or office. The company also sells chocolates and dried fruit, collectively providing great gift ideas for birthdays or the holidays.
What about if friends invite you over for dinner and you want to bring alcohol as a complement to the meal, but your fridge is bare? Klink facilitates choosing beer and wine and receiving it within an hour.
Challenging Walmart to up the Stakes
Amazon Prime members get free, two-day shipping on qualifying items as long as their subscriptions are up to date. Not willing to be left out, Walmart indicated it’s ready to take Amazon head-on by offering free two-day shipping for items people buy on Walmart.com, as long as they spend $35 or more.
Notably, the promotional messaging for the offer highlights the fact there’s no membership fee for the service and that people can get free shipping on things not available to get in two days. In some locations, Walmart customers can select an in-store pickup location that allows people to hop in their cars and go to their closest store instead of waiting a couple of days.
Walmart is also testing a “pickup tower” in fewer than 100 of its stores. Its capacity of several hundred items allows people to get online orders without interacting with team members.
Instead, a purchaser goes to the tower — which is located in the front of the store to save time — scans an email with a barcode on it and waits for a door to open and dispense the item. That system allows online shoppers to grab their merchandise in under a minute.
Amazon has substantially motivated the evolution of the online shopping and delivery realms, and some of their pioneering practices have shaped what other brands do. We can only wait and see what’s on the horizon, but if the examples above are any indication, keep your anticipation high.
Images: William Warby