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How Delivery Works In Our On-Demand Economy

By Kawal Preet | December 8, 2021

Technology is powering new modes of delivery that are on-demand, personalized and hyper-convenient – perfect for our post-pandemic world.

Rapid advancements in technology have shifted customer behavior and attitudes in recent years. At the same time, technology has fueled the expansion of on-demand services through digital channels. Consumers now have immediate access to goods and services with convenient, speedy delivery, in many cases on the same day.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will continue to accelerate this trend as consumers purchase more and more online amid lockdowns and restrictions. The on-demand economy is set to soar, reaching a whopping $335 billion by 2025. The rise of e-commerce and the on-demand economy gives Small-and-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) a unique opportunity not just to boost sales, but to position themselves for long-term success.
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To do so, SMEs will need to create an effortless digital purchasing journey that extends beyond checkout. Research has shown has shown that high shipping costs and unsatisfactory delivery options are two of the most significant reasons for consumers to abandon purchases in their virtual shopping carts. This makes it critical for SMEs to employ digital solutions to differentiate their last mile deliveries to beat the competition, win new business and retain customer loyalty.

Logistics players continue to invest in disruptive technology to help businesses navigate the challenges of the on-demand economy. SMEs should leverage these innovations to make deliveries efficient, cut costs, and improve profitability amid the rise in online orders.

Here are three hot trends in delivery technology that will help SMEs succeed in the on-demand economy.

1. Rapid and effective inventory management: 5G
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5G is a game changer. It offers data speeds 20 times faster than existing 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks. Significantly increasing the volume and speeds at which the data can be analysed is promoting greater adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) technology.

In the logistics sector, the emergence of ultra-fast 5G technology can help providers better manage their inventory and supply chains, resulting in higher accuracy and speed in reaching end customers.

As more IoT and data analytics solutions are being used among both B2B and B2C companies, 5G brings new promise of powering near real-time data analytics, so businesses can make more informed decisions, faster. Solutions like FedEx Surround, a platform that provides artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict excursions caused by weather or traffic conditions to avoid logistical slowdowns before they occur, could be widely used among businesses.

5G technology is also accelerating the development of autonomous vehicles that are currently being tested in several countries. This gives us a glimpse into the future of logistics where self-driving vehicles become more common, further accelerating last-mile delivery services.

2. See the whole picture: the smarter way to track deliveries
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Package status updates are now the norm in the e-commerce ecosystem. Going a step further, smart sensor technology enables customers to know the exact location of an item in transit with pinpoint accuracy, down to the exact environmental conditions. This is a game changer for high-value packages, food ingredients, chemicals, bio-samples and so on.

Real-time location tracking and communication capabilities are more effectively connecting drivers and customers and as a result, improving the customer experience.

Advanced solutions such as FedEx SenseAware are being used in mission-critical sectors such as the healthcare industry. With SenseAware, customers in the healthcare space can receive near real-time updates on the location of their shipment which could be vaccines, critical medicines and other time and temperature sensitive products, for instance, thus improving the safety, security and timeliness of deliveries. The adoption of SenseAware technology is just one of the examples of how logistics companies can leverage innovative technology to enhance shipment visibility and deliver a new level of precision, transparency in tracking packages.

3. Get to the finish line quickly & seamlessly: robotic deliveries
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Rising demand for contactless services in the wake of the pandemic is helping drive demand for autonomous solutions.

Rising demand for contactless services in the wake of the pandemic is helping drive demand for autonomous solutions .

McKinsey estimates that autonomous vehicles will deliver 78% of items globally in the future, with traditional delivery accounting for only 20%. Already, a growing number of businesses in Asia are starting to experiment with robotic delivery in the form of self-driving vehicles and autonomous delivery bots.

Singapore, for instance, is in the midst of a one-year trial of autonomous robots to make deliveries in the north-east of the island, paving the way for wider use of robot "couriers" for on-demand delivery services. Autonomous delivery vehicles were also deployed in Chinese cities during the pandemic last year.

Asian cities are showing growing appetites for adopting autonomous technologies. In Japan for instance, a global leader in robotics technology, companies hope to optimize robotic technologies to tackle multiple issues, such as easing traffic congestion, enhancing productivity as well as addressing issues due to aging populations.

With this in mind, we recently introduced an autonomous delivery bot RoxoTM in Japan. The robot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, safely delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. Consumers thereby can enjoy same day, contactless delivery services at their doorsteps.

We’ve also announced a collaboration with Neolix, a leading company in autonomous technology, to test an autonomous delivery vehicle in China. This is the first time in our operations in China that we’ve cooperated with a local Chinese technology company to test the use of a driverless vehicle. This is just the latest effort the we’re taking to embrace technological innovation and deploy autonomous vehicles to drive sustainable and intelligent logistics in this region.

Advanced logistics solutions such as these can help fuel the growth of businesses, including SMEs, and ensure that they remain relevant long into the future.

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This article originally appeared in Forbes Brandvoice.
Rising demand for contactless services in the wake of the pandemic is helping drive demand for autonomous solutions.

About the Author
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Kawal Preet

Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, FedEx Express

Kawal started out as a FedEx engineer in Singapore over 20 years ago, and she’s now the President of FedEx Express AMEA. Kawal is based in Hong Kong.

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