We’ve all gotten used to instant gratification—books and TV shows on demand, Amazon orders within days, etc.
Enter drone deliveries: automated, airborne robots traveling as the crow flies, bringing food piping hot straight to your doorstep; or dropping off a toothbrush in a matter of minutes at your house to replace the one you can’t find in the morning; or flying in that one missing ingredient you need in a pinch for your recipe. Drone deliveries used to seem like science fiction—tiny little unmanned planes making deliveries straight to your backyard. But nowadays, they happen each and every day—even every hour—and the pandemic has only intensified a trend that was already underway.
What does this on-demand drone delivery revolution mean for the food and drink sector?
The delivery dilemma
There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a severe impact on the restaurant industry. Many restaurants have experienced a dramatic decline in sales, though many have also seen a significantly heightened demand in takeaway and deliveries during the crisis.
Have these deliveries been their salvation? The current models for most on-demand delivery platforms involve significant costs to restaurants. That means the restaurant is caught between a burger and a hard place: If they subscribe to a delivery service, they either have to pass the costs on to the customer or eat into their profit margins, which are already wafer thin. If they don’t offer delivery, they risk losing customers who have grown used to getting goods brought to straight their front doors. But if they do deliver and raise prices to pay for it, they risk losing business anyway. And tacking on a delivery fee—in the golden age of Amazon Prime-style free deliveries—would likely cause customers to take their business elsewhere as well. What’s a restaurant to do?
The airborne solution
Recent reports show consumer expectations for delivery are getting loftier, with over 90 percent considering two to three days as a baseline, and 30 percent expecting same-day delivery. When narrowed down by category, delivery time expectations shrink to same-day for groceries and within-the-hour for prepared foods. It is no wonder then that 42% of retailers are looking to implement same-day delivery by 2022.
Drone deliveries are uniquely suited to meet this growing demand. Drones are far faster than human couriers – they don’t have to zigzag through city streets or wait for traffic or red lights, nor do their drivers take well deserved breaks – because there are no drivers (or pilots in this case) – it’s all fully automated. Drones are a more affordable solution too, as one drone operator can monitor multiple drone delivery orders simultaneously, meaning lower delivery costs for businesses using such an airborne service.
With concerns over climate change intensifying, such deliveries are also much friendlier to the environment than traditional couriers. A drone weighs about 30 pounds and runs on electricity, versus a one-ton vehicle needed for traditional deliveries, which usually burns fossil fuel, adding to smog, traffic and even accidents.
For quick-service restaurant deliveries, drones are ideal because most food orders are fairly lightweight. And companies have perfected aerial deliveries so that the food arrives swiftly and hot, and drinks do not spill in flight.
In short, drone delivery offers a win-win, on-demand delivery alternative for quick-service restaurants that is faster, more cost-efficient and more sustainable than traditional delivery services. And you don’t even need to leave a tip!
Yariv Bash, is the CEO and cofounder of leading on-demand drone delivery company, Flytrex.