What’s more, Gooding adds, packages to homes are on average about

Most people will tell you that Marie Antoinette uttered those fateful words and lost her head for her troubles but this has never been established. In fact, it is very unlikely that Marie Antoinette could have said these words at all.Shippers could also use AI to further improve virtual density by scheduling deliveries that precisely take advantage of whatever flexibility recipients may have in time or location, adjusting the parameters on the fly as packages move through the network and recipients’ needs and availability change. The system could even take into account likely driver and truck availability throughout the shipping chain to predict, prevent, and work around any bottlenecks. “Routing technologies could drive substantial savings,” says Haber. Again, shippers could share those savings through pricing that incentivizes consumer flexibility in when the package arrives and where it’s met.The best bet for driverless deliveries might be tiny, robot-like vehicles that navigate sidewalks and walkways to drop off items. FedEx may have a lead here with its “Roxo” robot, based on the smart-wheelchair technology developed by inventor Dean Kaman of Segway fame, and demonstrated last year in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We’re bullish on Roxo,” says Smith. “It could make a delivery to a home from a local retailer up to three miles away, and that’s a growing market that shippers have had trouble serving profitably.” In theory, Roxo or something like it could also team up with a driverless van on longer-distance deliveries.
So what’s the big deal? Cake isn’t very nutritious but it is hardly the worst thing to eat during a famine. In fact, many people today love eating cakes of all times so why is this quote seen so horribly?
Note the word brioche. Have you ever eaten something on a brioche bun? This is the same concept. Brioche is not cake but rather an artisan or luxury bread that uses a large amount of eggs and butter to make it light and savory. Even in places today brioche is seen as niche and expensive. It was exponentially more so in Revolutionary France.

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What is terrifying to me was the fact that instead of taking a moment to look at the evidence, some people immediately believed it without taking a moment to examine her photos which were so obviously fabricated, or allowing Tom to provide his side of the story.

Right now, none of these technologies looks promising as a complete solution to the problem. But stitched together, they start to present a compelling vision: Drones could deliver high-value, high-urgency items like life-saving medications or critically needed machine parts; driverless vans might service rural areas where there are fewer cars and pedestrians to dodge; and Roxo-like robots could roam city sidewalks with local retail-shop deliveries. Drivers would continue to make the bulk of the deliveries, but with fewer stops and more packages per stop.

All of these high-tech tweaks aren’t likely to soothe the pain of Shipageddon. But post-pandemic, as FedEx’s battle with Amazon resumes and intensifies, the future of e-commerce will ultimately come down to which one can crack the most pedestrian of problems: the cost of shipping.

One of the most quoted phrases from the French Revolution is the infamous saying “let them eat cake”. This phrase is deeply associated with the outbreak of the revolution and highlights how deeply disconnected and wealthy the rulers of France were at the time. The problem is, this phrase is not only poorly translated, it is also misattributed.

Bread shortages in Europe were fairly common and occurred on a cyclical basis, especially in France. Bread shortages coincided with times of severe famine or times of economic troubles. Famine caused by crop loss or war depleted the bread supplies by destroying the grain used to make the bread. Economic hardship would slow bread production but left many poor people in the cities without the means to buy it.

The other solutions are a matter of dialing in efficiency anywhere they can find it. FedEx can try to raise “virtual density” in residential neighborhoods by shortening the distance between stops, or reducing the distance drivers have to walk from the truck to drop off a package. That could be done, notes Forrester’s Kodali, by adjusting the timing of deliveries to ensure that two or more packages destined for similar locations end up in the same truck together at the same time.

The simplest way for FedEx to cut its costs is to raise residential delivery density by setting up centralized delivery locations in or near residential communities, so that drivers can drop off more packages in one stop. That’s why FedEx last year partnered with Walgreens, Dollar General, and some grocery chains to offer “access points” where customers can pick up their packages. (UPS has struck similar deals with CVS and Michaels.) Granted, driving to large stores isn’t a popular option during a pandemic, but doing so might well take off after. And it’s not really an option for Amazon — stores are happy to have the extra traffic, of course, but they aren’t going to partner with Amazon and help it erode their business. That’s forced Amazon to build its own “locker” facilities for access points, an expensive approach even when taking advantage of increasingly cheap dead-mall space, as it has. (Amazon also accepts returns of any Amazon-sold products at Whole Foods stores, but customers can’t pick up deliveries there.)

One compelling argument for consumers to be on board with their packages shipped to access points is that it avoids having packages sit in a lobby or on a stoop where they could be rained on, stolen, or used by burglars as a tip-off to an unattended home. Eventually, some communities may choose to set up their own neighborhood access points to get that security benefit, notes Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who specializes in transportation technology. To sweeten the deal, shippers could offer discounts for shipping to access points, rewarding consumers for taking the trouble to head there to get their packages. “It’s a model of shifting some of the delivery work to the end user,” Smith says.

The biggest opportunities for slashing shipping costs may lie with seemingly farfetched technologies that take over drivers’ tasks, or even replace them altogether. “Driverless vans, pilotless planes, and drone deliveries aren’t going to solve any problems immediately,” says John Gnuschke, a University of Memphis economist who studies FedEx. “But they will in the future, and FedEx is preparing for them now.” Both FedEx and Amazon have already made drone deliveries, FedEx through a partnership with Alphabet, Google’s parent company. But making a dent in the task of delivering tens of millions of packages a day would require loading local skies with at least hundreds of thousands of drones lugging boxes over people’s heads, an unlikely scenario from a regulatory point of view.

All the major shippers have announced plans to enlist driverless vans and trucks once regulators allow them. While various pilot programs for driverless vehicles have been running in dozens of cities across the U.S. over the past five years, progress toward regulatory approval has been slow. Even if the shippers were allowed to field driverless vans, they’d run into what Kodali calls the “final feet” problem. “How are you going to get the package to the front door?” she asks. “Throw it? Leave it by the side of the street?”

All of these high-tech tweaks aren’t likely to soothe the pain of Shipageddon. But post-pandemic, as FedEx’s battle with Amazon resumes and intensifies, the future of e-commerce will ultimately come down to which one can crack the most pedestrian of problems: the cost of shipping.

FedEx would have a leg up on other shippers, including Amazon, in this regard, given its leading-edge approach to tracking, including its new on-package sensor-tracking capability. FedEx’s Smith insists the company has every intention of pressing that advantage. “We have the real-time routing engines and predictive analytics to be more efficient,” he says. “There’s a lot more we can do with it to make us more competitive.”

Writing mostly to myself. Sharing some of it with you. Hope it helps.

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