Australians still prefer their parcels to be delivered by person, rather than high tech alternatives like drones.
A survey of 709 Australians by University of Sydney transport and logistics researchers asked participants for their preferred parcel delivery mode from three options – traditional delivery by ‘postie’, aerial drone or parcel locker – under a range of different scenarios which varied according to cost and time.
Professor Rico Merkert, an expert in transport logistics lead author of the paper, says the results show Australians still prefer the traditional postie. But, he adds, those delivery preferences can change depending on factors like speed, cost, safety and infrastructure.
The results are published in the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management.
Participants were asked to respond to a set of scenarios, involving buying a range of goods online (including books, electronics, household, clothing, jewellery and sporting items) and invited to choose their preferred delivery mode – postie, parcel locker, or drone – with defined realistic cost and time estimates.
The value of the parcel was a significant factor in people’s choice of delivery mode, Merkert says. “The higher the value, the more people were interested in issues like security, safety […] that’s very interesting because a lot of people in the e-Commerce space order more than a book for $15, they order iPhones which are worth $1,500.”
For those higher value items, the human postie had a competitive advantage, enabling people to sign for the parcel.
Infrastructure was a key factor in decisions too. If people weren’t at home, and had no safe place for an unattended delivery, they were more likely to be interested in the option of a parcel locker.
The paper says drones and parcel lockers are “potential game changers” for last-mile delivery.
As the cost of drone delivery falls, modelling based from the survey results suggests drones become the preferred option.
Merkert says, while today’s drone delivery operations are mainly targeting niche markets, the technology holds significant promise as a means of low cost, fast parcel delivery that could ultimately “reach market shares of up to 80%”.