From accurate tracking to seamless returns, many of us have certain demands when it comes to parcel delivery nowadays. It can feel like magic when you click ‘buy’ and an order turns up less than a day later. But have you ever stopped to think about the technology used along the way?
The events of 2020 have put delivery capacities to the test as people order an increasing variety of items from the safety of their own homes. Events such as Black Friday meanwhile – which saw sales rise by 17% in 2019 – regularly cause a mammoth influx of orders to fulfill.
At the same time, shoppers’ delivery expectations are now higher than ever before. From unexplained delays to extra costs and even negative interactions with drivers, one bad post-purchase experience could be all it takes to lose a customer’s loyalty forever.
But shipping products on mass isn’t easy, especially when dealing with international sales and other potential complications. So what technologies are modern businesses relying on to help deliver the goods?
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI has been used at multiple stages of a parcel’s journey for years now. It can locate and pick a stock in warehouses, plan routes for drivers, and enable parcel tracking. And thanks to ever-advancing data gathering and machine learning capabilities, these processes are only likely to get more and more accurate.
Cloud computing services are simplifying many of the complexities of parcel shipping, particularly when it comes to selling goods internationally.
Buyers rightfully expect to know exactly what they’ll pay before committing to do so, but considerations such as import tariffs, tax and duties can make this information difficult to provide. Cloud-based applications help to deliver accurate forecasts to customers instantly.
Application programming interfaces (APIs)
In short, APIs allow different software applications and websites to communicate with each other. In the context of parcel delivery, this could mean connecting different carriers to help fulfill orders in the most efficient and low-cost way possible.
Have you ever seen an option to collect a parcel from a nearby locker? Increasingly common in cities, these smart lockers offer convenient and secure parcel storage while eliminating risks of being unable to complete deliveries, for example, if recipients aren’t around to sign for them.
Self-driving vehicle technology may still be a little way off yet – but it’s getting closer. One concept gathering momentum is the Kar-go, a fully autonomous and roadworthy delivery vehicle. It’s expected that shoppers will be able to choose exactly when and where their parcels are delivered via an app.
Drones, crowdsourced drivers and augmented reality are all also likely to grow more important in modern delivery processes. Who knows what we will come to expect as standard by 2030…