Location, location, location! For decades, businesses have operated on the mantra that to succeed, they must find the perfect spot, but in a rapidly changing mobility landscape, is that still true? What if businesses — small, medium and large — could use self-driving vehicles to loosen the grip of geography, changing the way they operate and the way our communities operate in the process?
At Ford, we believe that’s the kind of potential autonomous technology holds, and why we expect our partnership with Postmates, a company that’s already making big improvements to the lives of city dwellers, can make an even bigger impact on local economies. Like us, Postmates is on a mission to help people unlock the best of their cities, with a focus on creating a reliable on-demand delivery network — one that gives consumers better access to the goods they need.
Postmates offers on-demand delivery of anything from anywhere right to your doorstep — from restaurant carryout and coffee shop orders to hardware store items and grocery goods. As the first on-demand partner for our self-driving vehicle program, we’re setting out together to explore new ways in which this technology can serve people living and working in our communities by offering more efficient deliveries, and by connecting more consumers to smaller and local businesses.
Small businesses play a crucial role in supporting all our cities, but in many ways it’s difficult for them to compete with large businesses, which oftentimes limits them to operating in a specific part of town. With self-driving vehicles, we can ensure that geography alone does not equal destiny.
Throughout the year, Ford and Postmates will conduct pilot programs to explore how self-driving technology could change the delivery experience for consumers, enable brick-and-mortar retailers to reach new customer bases, and transform the way commerce moves in the communities in which we operate.
In the future, when a consumer uses Postmates to place a purchase — whether for groceries, takeout or other goods — a self-driving vehicle could be what delivers her order. As part of our testing trials, we’ll study both what the merchant experience needs to be at the point of delivery and what the customer experience needs to be at that same point.
Already, what I’ve learned about Postmates and the way it’s supporting local businesses is impressive, including the fact that retailers who have taken advantage of the platform have seen sales quadruple. Retailers in low-income communities have even used the service to expand their reach into other neighborhoods. We’re here to help the company take it to an all new level.
The way commerce is moving around in cities is dramatically changing, and emerging technology will undoubtedly have an impact on the future of on-demand delivery. With the knowledge we’ll gain from our partnership with Postmates, we anticipate we’ll be able to better deploy self-driving technology in a way that can help people get what they need faster, while also supporting local businesses that are a big part of communities around the world.