When you think of Amazon, the first thought is always its dominance in the highly competitive world of e-retailing. Today, Amazon is also one of the leading and most future-focused players when it comes to technology and innovative services. From developing drones to providing one-hour deliveries, explore where Amazon’s innovative thinking has taken them at the beginning of 2015.
Amazon is known for its advanced logistics and delivery network. The constant improvements in its retail chain have so far been unmatched by any other e-retailer.
In December 2014, Amazon launched its highly-publicised Prime Now one-hour or two-hour delivery service, in Manhattan, which was exclusively offered as a benefit to its Prime members. Amazon has continued to expand its Prime Now service, now including four more metro areas: Baltimore, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta, with more cities to be added later in 2015.
The Prime Now service has also added a refrigerated and frozen groceries section to its offering, which can, for now, be enjoyed by customers in New York City.
Amazon has been considering adding commercial drones to its delivery network for quite a long time, but it was only in the beginning of April this year that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowed Amazon to start testing its proposed 30-minute drone-delivery service, known as Prime Air. Amazon expects that the use of drones in the supply chain will significantly drive down delivery costs and improve the efficiency of a same-day delivery service that already has a tremendous reach.
Considering the above, it comes as no surprise that in the beginning of 2015 Amazon has also applied for a patent to 3D print products in the back of a van, while en-route to a customer. Amazon expects that this innovative approach will not only save warehouse costs, but will also get purchases into the hands of buyers faster than ever before.
Delivery improvements are not the only innovations to be found on Amazon’s 2015 agenda. Amazon’s new home virtual assistant appliance, Amazon Echo, is already considered by some users as the future of every home. Amazon Echo is a purpose-built, internet-connected voice command device, with functions including question answering, playing music, or making decisions based on past behaviour, such as placing orders on Amazon’s website or app.
Although some critics say that Echo is unnecessary because most potential users already carry smart phones that can do the same things, Amazon Echo proves to be more convenient as it is hands-free and designed for use by anyone in a room.
At the beginning of this year Amazon launched its Home Services. The purpose of the pilot programme is to connect Amazon-certified workers or service providers with customers that have bought products from the company’s website or app, and provide them with after-sales services for a fee.
Shortly after getting into the home services business, by announcing its on-demand service for all sorts of home chores, Amazon launched the so-called “Dash button” — a new device that allows customers to order products from Amazon Fresh by using a single Wi-Fi-connected button that triggers delivery.
Amazon’s most recent innovation is the launch of a new B2B marketplace – Amazon Business. The new marketplace will be operating in a way that takes the best out of Amazon regular B2C website, but is specifically tailored to meet the needs of businesses shoppers, who will now be able to order a wide range of products and get their purchases delivered in two days for free – if an order costs more than 45 euros.
All of these technology and service advancements show that Amazon isn’t just an e-retailer, but has been thinking far beyond the logistics of taking orders and ensuring packages are delivered on time. Let’s wait and see just how far the company’s innovation will extend by the end of 2015.
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