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Is it only a matter of time before Amazon enters the delivery business?

Yesterday I ordered something from Amazon Prime. The guaranteed delivery time was today before 9pm, but within an hour of ordering the delivery estimate was updated and it ended up arriving on the same day about 5 hours after my order. I thought this was pretty amazing, particularly because the package was a bit time sensitive.

Delivering to individual residences is more expensive than delivering to more centralized businesses and stores. And with the rise of online shopping, UPS now delivers as many as 31 million packages every day. Because of this, every little detail counts. 

Last year the company started installing Bluetooth receivers on the inside of its delivery trucks. If a driver incorrectly loads a package that isn’t on their route, it pushes out a loud beep. (This is one of the many tech and data-driven projects that UPS is working on to ensure it stays competitive.)

Previously there was no final check. If there was a rogue package on the truck, it meant the driver would have to stray from their route, coordinate a handoff, or delay the package for another day. These mishaps can really add up when you’re delivering 31 million packages in a single day.

With Amazon squeezing delivery times and with the rumors that it’s going to start its own delivery business (to compete directly with UPS and FedEx), one has to wonder about the impact that these volumes will have on our cities. Perhaps autonomous vehicles will really become the new roaming retail outlet – ready to deliver as soon as we click buy.

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