By Jim Tompkins
CEO, Tompkins International

I guess 60 minutes had more compelling stories to cover last night, so Amazon Prime Air did not get any Cyber Monday Eve publicity out of the show. However, not wanting to back down on the regulatory pressure, Amazon released a great video of a "real and not simulated delivery" of a pair of cleats after the family dog ate one of a young lady's shoes just prior to the soccer game.

Amazon saved the day! But, no follow up story yet if the girl scored the winning goal with her cleats delivered by the Amazon Prime Air drone. The video is very well done and funny. If the goal was to advance the thought of the technical feasibility of drone deliveries, the video was convincing. However, I don't know of anyone who sees the feasibility of a drone delivering to an Amazon logo in an unobstructed yard as a being in question. Just look at what we are doing with military drones.

Other than the PR boost, again, on Cyber Monday the much more relevant questions about financial feasibility and regulatory acceptance remain unanswered. Don't get upset with me and call me skeptic - I am not skeptical, but I am a realist.

So, you ask is drone delivery viable? For now, all I can say is "It depends".

  • Technically viable: Sure.
  • Economic viability: In limited cases.
  • From a regulatory perspective: On a very limited basis in a few years.
  • As a method to do a significant percentage of eCommerce deliveries: When cows fly.
  • From a PR perspective: Not from 60 Minutes - You decide the public perspective.

Jim Tompkins is a supply chain consultant at Tompkins International who follows eCommerce. His most recent video is partially focused on complimenting Amazon on the great job they do on being customer centric, but does not once mention anything about drones.

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