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Amazon

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Drone home: How Amazon’s delivery drones could sell you services

Hot off the back of Amazon’s recent filed patent for beehive-like drone depots which would be used to dispatch deliveries, the retail giant has announced that the drones could analyse customers’ homes and try and sell them services and products based on collected data from onboard cameras.

Trials have already begun for the ambitious plans of a fleet of delivery drones, known as ‘Prime Air’ service, with small products flown to customers in under 30 minutes.

And Amazon hopes to collect and use the data to its advantage, filing a patent that explains how the online-retail giant hopes “captured data may be received by a computer system and properties about a destination for the delivery may be identified by analysing the data. A recommendation may be generated based at least in part on the identified properties”.

Explaining in more detail, Amazon relates how a drone could assist a customer if the onboard camera noticed that the client’s roof needed fixing:

“For example, the one or more service provider computers may analyse the data and identify that the roof of the location is in disrepair and in need of service. Subsequently, the one or more service provider computers may generate and provide a recommendation to the customer informing them of the identified property and offering an item or service that is appropriate for the identified property (e.g., a roof repair service recommendation).”

The patent explains how customers could receive these recommendations in a variety of ways, such as email, text or Amazon notification.

However, privacy laws would mean that the service would be opt-in, with the patent explaining it would only capture and analyse this data with customer consent.

Amazon’s delivery drone dream are still a long way from commercial reality, with testing in the UK and early trials suggesting it will be years before Prime Air service becomes commercially viable.

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Customer service to ‘compete with Amazon’

Self-serve locker systems are being prepared to allow rival online retailers to compete with Amazon Go.

Apex Supply Chain Technologies have revealed their new Apex AnyWhere line of self-serving automated systems at this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention.

The customer-facing, click and collect lockers aim to speed up and improve customer experiences with food and retail services by focussing on improving ‘last inch’ delivery, streamlining mobile ordering and working to ensure products reach customers as simply as possible.

“The technology Apex has on display at NRF shows the breadth and depth of our response to the rapidly changing retail landscape,” says Kent Savage, Apex Supply Chain Technologies founder and CEO, “they need to automate inefficient, manual processes and leverage the power of accurate inventory data.”

Traditionally manual processes such as managing handheld scanners, tablet computers and other inventory-tracking techniques run the risk of wasted time, which in turn wastes money.

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Apex aims to boost productivity and convenience in order to cause a decrease in customer queue times as well as allow employees to serve customers more quickly.

A large and increasingly growing competitor is Amazon, who already offers a highly streamlined and customer friendly interface.

Already implementing click and collect technology, drone delivery on the horizon and the announced Amazon Go to take on the high street retailers, Apex is hoping they can level the playing field.

“As bricks and mortar retailers race to reimagine and reinvent themselves to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce competitors, they must think differently,” said Mr Savage, “they can develop a competitive edge by embracing [online]-connected devices, like those we are showing at this year’s NRF show.”

 

 

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Blog: Toby Cruse: Amazon’s ‘Death Star’ to Take the Skies

Currently, if you want a package delivered from the Amazon’s airborne courier system in the UK, you need to have a large garden live near an Amazon delivery depot and want a very light package, but that’s looking to change.

The service, known as Prime Air, made its first successful touchdown in December, taking just 13 minutes between placing the order and arriving in the user’s back garden just outside of Cambridge.

While the online commercial giant has barely left the ground yet, plans have already been put forward to take the company to greater heights.

Discovered by CB Insight’s Zoe Leavitt, the new patents reveal ‘airborne warehouses’ designed to hang in the sky at 45,000 ft.

Described by Leavitt as Amazon’s very own “Death Star,” the patents also seemingly show designs of multi-purpose docking stations that could be built onto lamp posts, as well as buildings and other structures.

Using communication links known as a ‘Mesh Network,’ the drones will be able to transmit data between each other to send alerts of their environments.

Factors from how clear the weather is to the distance of a customer are hoped to be tackled by these airships, or “airborne fulfilment centres,” which would be able to travel to calmer climates as well as to hotspots where the service is in more greater demand.

The UK laws on drone piloting are continuing to evolve as they become more and more popular, but they currently do not allow for flying over or within 150m of congested areas, or within 50m of any vessel, structure or vehicle not controlled by the pilot.

However, even with these laws the UK is considered much more lenient than many countries. American drone users, for example, required a licence and a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Authority until August last year.

So far the Prime Air sounds very compelling for the 2 customers close enough to an Amazon warehouse to be viable, especially since the service doesn’t cost any more than the customers are already paying, but whether or not your orders are going to be sent to you gift-wrapped from the clouds in the near future is still up in the air.

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Amazon Go store concept could enter the UK market…

Amazon’s “revolutionary” checkout-free stores are set to make an introduction to the UK market after reports claim the company registered for a trademark on December 5.

The eCommerce giant has already opened its first brick and mortar concept grocery store in Seattle earlier this month, where Amazon employees are able to use the Amazon Go app to shop for goods without engaging in a paying process while in-store.

Now, according to industry reports, the concept may be making its way to the UK market, and British shoppers with an Amazon Prime account will soon be able to see the “ground-breaking” shopping experience for themselves.  

Although the retailer is yet to officially confirm these plans, a number of retail analysts have predicted that this concept could jeopardise three quarters of grocery store jobs. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) have also suggested that a third of the UK’s three million shop jobs could disappear within a decade.

It comes after the e-tailer was criticised by Scotland’s leader of the Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, claiming the company has maintained “intolerable working conditions” at its Dunfermline warehouse.

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Thousands of Christmas retail temp jobs still available on UK market…

Surprisingly, 21,000 Christmas jobs are still available in the UK, marking a 24 per cent increase in the number of festive roles since last year as employers are working to fill seasonal contracts for an anticipated festive rush.

With the largest proportion of this year’s vacancies falling in the retail, logistics and sales sectors, data from Adzuna has revealed that big-name online and high street retailers are stocking up on extra staff this winter, leading to thousands of temporary, part-time roles flooding the market.  Average pay for these roles is in decline and advertised pay for seasonal workers has fallen from £11.50 per hour in 2015 to just £9.32 this Christmas season.

Co-founder of Adzuna, Doug Monro said: “With a wealth of negative news hitting the job market in 2016, this boost in festive vacancies is sure to put a smile on the faces of British jobseekers. It’s not all good news, however, as average pay for festive workers looks set to drop significantly compared to last year, suggesting some top retail employers may be hiring more staff for entry level positions and cutting back on higher paid management roles.”

In addition, Royal Mail, Amazon, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have the most jobs available, with over 70,000 positions predicted between these four major players alone.

EMW MICROSITE

Retail developments decline for seventh consecutive year…

According to a new report published by the commercial law firm, EMW, new retail development applications declined by nine per cent in the past year; with a total of 6,700 applications made in 2015, down from 7,360 in 2014.

The sharp decrease in 2015/2016 indicates a fall for the seventh consecutive year and is down by 44 per cent of the number of the pre-recession peak of 11,900 recorded in 2008/2009. EMW said that despite bricks-and-mortar retailers increasingly expanding their online services, many were still failing at the competition with online-only retailers such as ASOS and Amazon. In addition, the law firm also notes that the recent decline of traditional retailers, such as the Morrisons’ convenience store chain, My Local, as well as Austin Reed and BHS, were in part caused by the continued success of online-only brands.

Principal at EMW, Aimee Barrable, commented: “Recent high profile closures will lead to more retail space becoming available on the market. Those retailers still looking to expand their high street presence might look to acquire some of these recently vacated stores instead of applying for any new retail developments.”

She continued: “Also, it may be that many retailers wait before committing to any new shop developments until they have a clearer picture of the economy in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.”

Read more from Aimee Barrable and on the report here

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New survey votes Amazon as UK’s top retailer…

Already experiencing an impressive 2016, with the launch of its AmazonFresh service and the announcement of 1,000 new permanent jobs to be created within the company this year, data compiled by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has declared Amazon as the UK’s favourite retailer.

A quarter of the 1,000 respondents voted for Amazon to claim the top spot, followed by John Lewis with 14 per cent backing, Marks & Spencer with 10 per cent and other retailers such as Asos and eBay clinching to top 20 status.

Contradicting its ever-increasing popularity, it’s surprising to find that Apple received just one per cent of the overall vote, as the DMA indicates a ‘disconnect between the power of the brand and Apple as a retail brand’ and many consumers purchase Apple products through other outlets.

Read more on the DMA’s ‘Customer Engagement’ research here