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Driverless Cars: The Potential Impacts on Retail

The ups and downs in the retail sphere in recent times has not been for the lack of technological breakthroughs. If anything at all, technology has powered retail into a state of domination. Amidst these advanced breakthroughs, whispers of a certain technological marvel has reverberated throughout the stretch of the retail sector time and again. A phenomenon that is known as 'Driverless cars'. As the world still awaits for the perfect model, driverless cars, despite its' numerous potential utilities across industries, can have a huge impact on the retail sector as well. Let's see how.

driverless cars in retail


Reduced cost / More efficiency in Delivery


Delivery and transport of goods has been an essential cog in the shopping wheel since ancient times. For both the online and offline retailers, the cost attached to delivery is a major aspect under consideration. The expectations of customers with regards to faster delivery or same day shipping is only increasing. With cost of faster delivery being the major concern, 'driverless cars' or 'trucks' can come to the rescue of retailers. Sure there will be the initial investment attached in acquiring these cars/trucks but on the flip side, retailers can save up on a lot in the long run. Apart from being more fuel efficient, these automated delivery vehicles enables retailers to reduce costs and enhance the efficiency in delivery. For example


  • They do not have to provide employee salaries, wages, over-time charges, compensations, etc as in the case of normal mode of delivery.


  • There is no kind of training costs, bonuses, hikes or pensions attached.


  • Other than costs, it also saves the retailers the trouble of dealing with sickness, absenteeisms, lateness, maternity leaves, misconducts, procrastrinatons of employees.


  • The driverless vehicles are void of any emotions and hence can work relentlessly on a regular basis.


  • The elimination of human error along with the reduced chances of the occasional theft or fraud by the staff.

Express/ Customized Delivery Options


For both online and offline retailers, the main area of concern lies in the efficient and timely delivery of items when the delivery system reaches its capacity. Adding to the pressure is the constantly rising customer expectations and demands of same day or faster delivery. With automated driverless vehicles, it goes without saying that the pace of delivery can be considerably improved. Same day shipping might appear to be a possibility on more cases than in the past. Apart from the speed of delivery, the other customer demand that retailers face is the time of delivery. Customers can go at the extent of expecting their delivery at unsociable and odd hours just because of their own convenience. Retailers find it difficult on more occasions than not in finding workers who can pick and deliver the items at such odd times. Driverless delivery cars are automated machines that can work day and night tirelessly to meet this particular customer expectation as well.


Boosting Store Traffic with enhanced Customer Service


The modern day problem in hand for brick-and-mortar stores has been the generation of in-store traffic. It might sound awkward but driverless cars can contribute to solving this problem as well. But, not without a little bit of help. Retailers will have to do something more than what they do now in order to drive customers to their stores. For instance,


  • Established retailers, especially the high-end ones can pick their preferred customers from their home for a visit to the store and then drop them back.


  • Providing curated offerings in the form of discounts and coupons are common. They have to be exclusively for the brick-and-mortar visitors and more compelling than online or click and collect operators in order for the customers to be convinced for a driverless ride to the store.


  • Provide extraordinary levels of customer service and enhance their overall experience before, during and after the ride to the store to create the impulse for a repeat visit among the customers.

About Shakuntala Sarkar

Shakuntala is a marketer with 15 years of experience in Marketing Strategies & Operations, Brand Communications, Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communications. An economics graduate from St Xavier’s college, Kolkata and a IIMC she, has worked across different industries like IT & Retail, with consumer marketing in both B2B and B2C segments. Before joining Tickto, she was the Head of Customer Relationship Management at Spencer’s Retail. Prior to that, she has been a part of the Global Marketing & Communications team of Satyam Computer Services.

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