Consumers Eagerly Await Retailers’ Use of Drones for Delivery

June 3, 2015 DATAMARK

If consumers had their way with retailers, shipping of online purchases would always be free, for the most part. Unless the package was delivered by drone to the doorstep. Now, for something like that, consumers would be willing to pay extra.

These are some of the findings from the Walker Sands 2015 Future of Retail Study, a survey of the shopping habits and preferences of 1,400 U.S. consumers.

Delivery drones have been getting lots of hype in the news as of late, and two-thirds of consumers said they expected a drone to gently drop a package on their doorstep sometime within the next five years.

Eighty percent said they were willing to pay to make it happen. However, there are some hurdles to overcome–the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has proposed some new rules for drones that would hold off on deliveries by unmanned aircraft until 2017.

“Despite the excitement of customers and retailers, drones have effectively been grounded,” said Dave Parro, director of the retail technology practice at Walker Sands. “Consumers have embraced the idea of drone delivery and are ready for the technology right now, but there are still some major barriers retailers are facing before they can make real headway with commercial deliveries.”

How much would a drone delivery cost? Ultimately, the marketplace will sort it all out, but 48 percent of consumers surveyed said they would pay at least $5 for a drone drop-off.

Of the 12 percent of consumers who said they were not willing to receive any products via drone, 74 percent cited safety concerns, 69 percent were worried about costs, 64 percent objected to possible loss of privacy, and 58 percent said they were concerned about package theft.

Other key findings of the Walker Sands study include:

  • Consumers are increasing the amount of shopping they do online, and Amazon remains the most popular website for purchases of most categories of products.
  • Consumers say free shipping is more important than fast shipping.
  • Most consumers are still carrying cash, but are not using it as much as in the past. Cash is king for purchases from street vendors and for paying cab drivers.
  • When it comes to using phones for purchases at the cash register, consumers still have concerns about privacy and security.
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