While the concept of drone delivery is nothing new, and Amazon has shown their ambitions to start drone delivery in 2020, real-life product delivery by drone has so been just been concepts, pilots and stunts.
Chinese ecommerce giant, JD.com, has launched the first operational drone delivery programme for customers in rural China, encompassing 100 villages in Suqian district, Jiangsu province, with 40 drones. With the same same-day delivery service as currently available in major cities, drone delivery promises to help China's 600m strong rural population enjoy the same access to ecommerce as their urban counterparts, adding an extra boost to the already burgeoning industry.
Drone-delivery is still costly, and it remains to be seen if the initial outlay with bear out in the long run. JD's Chief Executive says drone delivery could cut costs by up to 70% once the infrastructure is in place and it's scaled up across the country.
With China's rural consumers helping the ecommerce market to swell by 39% in 2017, this added convenience will mean ever more consumption and even greater environmental consequences. It also means the continued concentration of commercial power in the hands of just a few Amazon-esque companies.