From logistics to sales and marketing, automation has the ability to transform ecommerce.

And although tech companies such as Ocado Solutions have been pioneers of automation. Therefore, last-mile delivery is still one area yet to be disrupt. Could autonomous vehicles be the next innovation in the industry? According to a 2021 report from Verified Market Research, the global autonomous delivery market is fairly modest, at $24m in 2019, but is growing and predicted to reach $237m by 2027. Drivers of this market include increased urbanisation (and the need to reduce emissions). Therefore, wider digitisation spurred on by Covid, and the continued shift to ecommerce – coupled with demand for super-fast, local delivery.

Autonomous vehicles generated investment in 2021

The latter months of 2021 saw a wave of investment dj email database in the autonomous vehicle space, particularly from prominent UK and US retailers. In October, Ocado announced that it had invested £10m in self-driving tech startup Wayve in order to develop autonomous vehicles for grocery delivery. Ocado is set to test Wayve’s technology as part of a trial using Ocado delivery vans in London, while some of Ocado’s delivery fleet will also include data collection devices to help train Wayve’s system on the complexities of driving on the road. 

This isn’t the first time Ocado has invested in the space; the UK retail chain also put £10m into software company Oxbotica last year. Therefore, to further enhance and develop its autonomous mobility software. As Ocado explained in April 2021, logistics costs constitute “the single-largest line item in the operating cost structure of online grocery,” and therefore autonomous vehicles offer “potential cost savings within core operations and significant opportunities to improve our partners’ customer proposition”. Prototypes are expected in two years time, with use-cases ranging from “vehicles that operate inside of our Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs) and the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.”

Retailers ramping up customer convenience post-Covid

7Eleven’s Chief Digital Officer, Raghu Mahadevan, has indicated. That autonomous delivery is another way for the company to ‘redefine convenience’ for its customers. Therefore, which it strives to do ‘inside and outside the four walls’ of its stores.

Of course, it’s no coincidence that investment in logistics automation has increased since the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, with retailers ramping up digital capabilities to align with the shift to ecommerce. Lockdowns and social distancing has meant that consumers are increasingly embracing omnichannel, with ecommerce orders still way above 2019 levels. As a result of this demand, there has also been an increase in ecommerce competition. Therefore, leading to the emergence of ‘q-commerce’ companies. Who are using super-fast delivery to steal market share away from leading grocery retailers. 

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