The third installment of our blog series will focus on another response to a question we received from the audience during our Bricks vs. Clicks: Why Cyber Monday is Taking Black Friday webinar. Part 2 is available here.
What impact will autonomic/driverless trucks and maybe even drones have on facility size and location?
We see autonomous vehicles as radically transforming the supply chain, but not for quite a while. Remember how in 2000 everyone thought eCommerce was going to take over the world and you saw the Pets.com sock monkey everywhere? Then the “tech wreck” happened and everyone went back to business as usual. Yet the predictions made then, are coming true now (not fully, but to a strong degree). Autonomous vehicles will follow the same path. However, they will likely not have a major impact on supply chains for another decade (although the topic may be politicized long before that due to concerns over automation driven job losses).
There is no stopping constant, disruptive advances in automation in the supply chain world. I think it is inevitable that we will see incremental innovation in transportation technology – we’re already seeing it. We will see increased hybrid driver/autonomous trucks with steady movement towards more digital control and decreasing dependence on drivers.
As we face an increasingly critical shortage of drivers in this country, with aging of the driver pool and fewer younger entrants to the field, autonomous trucks could be a solution to the driver shortage rather than a job killer.
And drones? They are not seen as being a major force shaping distribution chains. We will probably see some impactful things happening in this space which will be very marketing driven, but don’t hold your breath for the days when the skies will be blackened with flocks of drones whizzing overhead with packages galore. The US is behind, and falling further behind, other countries due to regulatory delays. The skies will not be filled with vehicles a la the Jetsons, but we expect we’ll eventually see successful deployment of drone technology, especially to reach remote locations that are cost prohibitive to reach by conventional delivery. Multiple orders will most likely be transported together and dispatched to a common, remote delivery center for customer pick-up.
Ben is Senior Managing Director and Practice Leader for Cushman & Wakefield’s eCommerce and Electronic Fulfillment Specialty Practice Group for the Americas. His responsibilities include counsel on strategy, site selection, design and execution for leading retail and logistics occupiers and investors, intellectual property presentation and business development. As leader of the Practice Group, Ben provides Cushman & Wakefield clients the most up to date market-leading counsel to effectively plan and execute their supply chain and fulfillment and real estate strategies. Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield in 2015, Ben was Director of North America Logistics Real Estate for Amazon Fulfillment Services, the logistics and operations subsidiary of Amazon.com. His wealth of experience from the occupier perspective comes from having led the largest and fastest expansion of network capacity in Amazon’s history, doubling the size of the logistics footprint.
Garrick Brown is Cushman & Wakefield’s Director of Retail Research for the Americas. He manages Cushman & Wakefield’s staff of retail researchers and is responsible for producing the firm’s retail analyses and forecasts for the United States, Canada and Latin America. Garrick is regularly quoted on retail matters by the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, NPR, WWD and dozens of Business Journals and other industry publications. Garrick speaks regularly at industry events and is known for his informative and entertaining approach. In addition to speaking frequently at Cushman & Wakefield events, he has served as a keynote speaker at symposiums, conferences and market forecasting events for groups like the Appraisal Institute, BOMA, the Bay Area Mortgage Association (BAMA), the California Bankers Association, the CCIM Institute, CREW, ICSC, Lambda Alpha International, NAIOP, the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association, SIOR and ULI.