In late October, Walmart joined Amazon and Google in requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration let them deliver products to customers via drone. While some commentators have argued that using drones to make deliveries could potentially result in destruction of property and a major invasion of privacy, consumers find the idea of same-day delivery very appealing. A recent survey found that 80 percent of consumer respondents said that they’d be more interested in ordering an item from a company that uses drones than one that does not. So, assuming the FAA certifies commercial drone delivery, would it be a good idea for your business?
What’s your industry?
The first consideration a small business owner will have to make about drone delivery is whether or not it makes sense for their particular industry. Businesses like restaurants, florists and booksellers could use the same day drone delivery to get an edge on their competitors. On the other hand, retailers that deal in products that are too heavy to be transported by commercial drones, like furniture sellers, wouldn’t be able to use that method of delivery unless drone technology advances significantly.
Where are your customers coming from?
It’s also worth noting that while drones have the potential to reduce delivery times from days to hours, they have significant geographical limitations. According to Wired, Amazon Prime Air drones only have a range of 10 miles. That means your business won’t be able offer expedited delivery to customers that are as little as 20 minutes away by car. If the majority of your customers live outside the immediate area where your business is located, drone delivery probably isn’t for you.
Is it cost effective?
Lastly, you should consider whether or not drone delivery is economically viable for your company. Corporations like Amazon and Walmart have deep enough pockets to construct and maintain branded drone fleets, but the overwhelming majority of small businesses don’t have enough capital to invest in expensive and unproven technology. Drones that have enough power to lift payloads in excess of 5 pounds start at $1,600, and that’s just for the drone itself. A flight system to operate the drone, the salary for a qualified drone pilot and insurance would all cost extra. Right now, drone delivery isn’t viable for most small businesses. However, as drone technology becomes consumerized and costs are driven down by companies looking to capitalize on the next big tech trend, things might be very different in as little as a year from now.
This article was written by Mario McKellop of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.