Last-mile challenges are a constant thorn in the side for most e-commerce businesses. Artificial intelligence, however, may have a role to play in solving this problem.
So goes e-commerce, so go last-mile solutions
As e-commerce continues its rise, the importance of last-mile delivery services only increases. Often a business’ reputation is tied to the type of delivery service a customer receives. Knowing this, it becomes imperative for e-commerce businesses to stand out and deliver the goods (literally and figuratively) in a timely manner.
Amazon knows and does this as well, if not better than, anyone. The e-commerce leader has begun to experiment with AI, particularly with drones, as a way to complete last-mile deliveries. And when Amazon does it, we should all pay attention.
Package delivery by drone is not a crazy, science-fiction future. It’s already happened, and it will happen more frequently as the technology develops. But it’s not just drones that will be dropping off packages at our doorsteps. Autonomous vehicles are regularly becoming a thing on our roadways. So it is only a matter of time before e-commerce and logistics businesses utilize this technology, as well.
It’s clear autonomous-vehicle technology is still evolving. While some are attempting to harness the self-driving technology, others anticipate a different type of wheeled vehicle to arrive at your door with packages. Like a droid that you might see in a Star Wars film, small robotic machines can complete the last-mile portion of a delivery. In cases like these, delivery trucks would act as small distribution centers, while these machines go out to complete deliveries.
This could not only help business solve last-mile challenges, but could also help urban areas avoid issues with traffic caused by delivery trucks. Many urban areas are hyper-congested with increased delivery traffic on their streets, many of which were not designed to handle such volumes of large vehicles. But drones in the air and small AI machines scooting along the sidewalks — instead of trucks on the roads — could mitigate some of the congestion.
Win the AI battle, win the last-mile challenge
It’s clear now why so many companies are attempting to develop AI: Whoever can reliably harness this technology first puts their business at tremendous advantage over the competition.
And it’s not just utilizing AI as the final delivery step that has e-commerce businesses excited. The ability to use AI and robotics in distribution centers as “pickers” to retrieve products for shipping is something that has the potential to completely change the industry. With AI pickers working 24/7, packages are able to get out of the distribution center faster, and onto the roads, where they will be promptly delivered to customers’ doorsteps by a robot counterpart.
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