Failed grocery innovations show the way for true disruption

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Drones, robots, delivery towers, scan-and-go checkouts: you can’t win them all.

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As Grocery Dive recently pointed out, most of the disruptive innovations hitting the grocery sector in the last few years failed to deliver the intended convenience boosts. 

Drones have been the favourite go-to news headline, conceived as useful to deliver emergency farmaceuticals in hard-to-reach areas, the little copters will probably never be able to bring a simple parcel to a third-floor apartment, at least not in a cost-effective and safe way. 

Robots have proven themselves a necessary asset in warehousing, but their wheeled counterparts navigating campus roads to deliver pizza are the only ones to still somewhat operate, whereas those intended for parcel delivery have been discontinued by both Amazon and FedEx. Crooked boardwalks, pedestrian and car traffic stood between them and any sensible rollout. 

Delivery towers were a marvel to behold: giant automated transformer-like monoliths that could accommodate as many as 300 delivery orders of any kind. But shoppers instead found it easier to drive their cars and do a curbside pickup, rather than parking, walking and then figuring out how they worked. 

Cashierless checkouts and scan-and-go cannot be declared dead yet, but their circulation looks surely hindered by the enormous implementation and maintenance costs. 

When push comes to shove home deliveries remain, by large, the favourite method when someone doesn’t want to go buy something in person. This predicament comes with its own set of challenges, let’s think about CO2 emissions, road congestion and high costs for the shipper. 

To disrupt grocery home delivery most of the work has to be done behind the scenes because when a van departs half-empty, or beleaguered by too many stops, or headed towards a customer angry for not finding a delivery spot at the right time, it is already too late.  

That’s why Milkman Technologies has been working for the last five years not on flying robots but on coding the best possible software and algorithms to optimize last-mile logistics. 

Based on AI-powered algorithms, Milkman Last Mile Platform, now also available on SAP Store, empowers Retailers and Logistics organisations to modulate the level of service, incentivizing wider slots for better distributed, more efficient and greener services and preventing unfeasible promises, as well as delighting even the most demanding shoppers with very precise appointments at low marginal costs. 

Offering convenient and sustainable delivery options while saving shipper costs is the only true disruption the market is waiting for. Robots are fun, but still a long way out. 

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