Amazon’s Drones Are Useless. But Its Trucks Could Crush UPS.


“Amazon’s flying delivery drone stunt may have scored the company a publicity coup on Cyber Monday Eve. But for a truly radical vision of the future, imagine streets crawling with another kind of Amazon machine: grocery trucks.”

Many experts believe that Amazon’s recent bit on 60 minutes where they released the concept of using drones for package delivery was done mainly as a publicity stunt.  Where Amazon’s real next gamechanger lies is their use of delivery trucks that are currently being used to deliver groceries strait to people’s homes via “Amazon Fresh”. While at first this seems like an odd concept, Amazon Fresh has been largely successful in it’s first testing in Seattle.  In fact the company has even more recently begun testing Amazon Fresh in San Francisco, meaning that this idea appears to be catching on in these highly populated areas.

This idea should spark intrigue when thinking of how inconvenient and time consuming grocery shopping can be, but also when thinking about how things like milk were at one point delivered strait to peoples homes.  The article notes how currently Amazon ships through providers like UPS and FEDEX, so the use of in-house delivery trucks should create quite a stir among these companies.  This could also create an impact on many local grocery stores where consumers may find they appreciate the convenience of online retail over the sentimental value of physical shopping (see also: Blockbuster v. Netflix).  It is possible that maybe Amazon may not be using privately owned food shelters and may in fact pick the groceries up form local stores, but that would itself create new issues.  With technology becoming more accessible at an alarming rate, this seems to be a very likely peek into the future of grocery shopping.


4 thoughts on “Amazon’s Drones Are Useless. But Its Trucks Could Crush UPS.

  1. I would agree that the whole drone idea is just a publicity stunt. From a numbers perspective, if Amazon only tried to ship 10% of the packages by drone – about 30 packages per second – and assuming an average delivery time of 20 minutes, and time overhead, a drone fleet numbering 54,000 would be needed. If all orders were to be delivered by drones, over half a million drones would be needed. Thus, logistically, i don’t see the drones being very viable for Amazon. However, is it ethical for a company to put out information such as this when logistically, it seems impossible to accomplish?

  2. In the United States, adults are typically the ones who shop for groceries. Between 20 and 30% of US adults, in most states, are obese. The states that have 30-40% of obese adults are: Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and South Carolina (as of August 2013).

    With that being said, approximately one quarter of adult Americans are obese, and these are the ones responsible for going to the grocery store. If we were to eliminate the need to leave home to obtain groceries, what is to say that a significant amount of these obese Americans would get any more exercise than the already small amounts that we can assume they are already partaking in? Some elderly people do not have many tasks in their usual week and going to the grocery store may be one of the few. The most relevant counterargument that comes to mind is that some obese or potentially obese people may not have access to technologies where they can order from Amazon.

    Removing the need for people to leave their homes just may be a terrible idea for the well-being of people, life-span of grocery stores, and automobile dealers. However, Amazon should profit immensely from giving Americans more opportunity to be lazy.

    Source for statistics:

  3. I see the benefit in having someone else such as Amazon fresh grocery shop for you. Over the summer I lived in Chicago and it was very inconvenient to go to the grocery store and also very time consuming. Often times people order in food that is not healthy, it would be nice to be able to order healthy food to your home. However, I think that this is going to lead to more issues than it is really worth. Local grocery stores and farmers markets are not going to get utilized as they should. And this could potential create a monopoly because Amazon will be able to dictate what companies they use to get supplies from. There is also the issue of obesity, many Americans are obese and grocery shopping is a chance for them to get out of the house and exercise.

  4. I agree with Aerial in that people would definitely use this service. Actually, grocery delivery services already exist. Schwan’s is a popular name that has been around for a long time and Peapod is a newer version of this. Even Walmart will ship groceries (although I don’t think this includes perishable items). However, by putting the Amazon name on this service, I could definitely see it taking off. Amazon is a highly trusted company with an incredibly large number of users. Surely they would be able to successfully implement this idea.

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