Is Amazon's PrimeAir the customer service of the future?

Monday, December 9, 2013

You order a product on Amazon, you click the Deliver button, and 30 minutes after, a drone-like flying machine arrives at your home carrying your product—that is customer service done in the fastest and most unique way.

Can you imagine it? Does it sound like science fiction? But believe it or not, this could happen in no time—in real life.

Indeed, the Internet exploded with photos of Amazon's unmanned aerial vehicles, which they call Octocopters, under the brand Amazon PrimeAir. These flying robots could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3 kilograms to customers 30 minutes or less after ordering online. This is the world's largest online retailer's response to its customers' growing demand, and it also wants to improve its efficiency in delivering customer satisfaction.

Although this sounds amazing, no one can tell of its effectiveness at the moment, since Amazon has to wait for five years before the US Federal Aviation Administration finishes drafting rules for unmanned aerial vehicles to prioritize public safety. Amazon's Jeff Bezos hopes that these rules would make them use drones for commercial purposes as early as 2015.

It's no science fiction

At first glance, it really looks like something you would only see in sci-fi flicks. We have only seen unpiloted flying carriers in the movies, and such has never been used in real life yet—for commercial purposes, at least.

Though the American police and government agencies have been using unmanned drones for the past years for serious investigation and rescue operations, seeing these flying objects busying themselves going back and forth to carry products still seems farfetched.

But Amazon knows how to live in the real world, as it is not rushing things up. They stated that the five-year planning period is a time for them to see the possible effects of seeing hundreds of drones in the sky, if ever this becomes a reality. They know that these flying objects could cause harm to people on the ground, as these machines are still machines and have a possibility of malfunctioning in the air.

The security of the products is still a running question, as there would be no one to guard them while flying in the air, which makes it vulnerable to stealing and attacks. Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is no longer a thing of sc-fi, as Australian textbook rental company Zookal has already announced that it would start delivering books by drone the moment they get the approval from Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority in 2015. Unlike Amazon's case, it will be of no hindrance to the startup textbook company's part, inasmuch as an Australian law allows the use of unmanned vehicles for commercial purposes.

And it's no publicity stunt either

Only Amazon knows if it is just a massive attempt to advertise itself anew or just a bold experiment. But what Amazon is up to is not really an ambitious undertaking. Drones have been around for a while, and these are used for military purposes. The only risk here is that using UAVs for commercial use requires a more careful planning, as there are many drawbacks. Commercial drones are more publicly exposed, unlike those for military exploits where drones are used only in specific areas and cases.

At the end of the day, we all know that Amazon does it for customer service, for delivering quality customer satisfaction—for us. And we know what they are capable of doing. Perhaps this day everyone thinks Amazon is crazy, but if the endeavor becomes a success, we can only sigh and say, "Amazon started it all." 
No one knows yet. All we can do now is wait.

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