In today's online shopping obsessed culture (yes, I see my employees browsing shoes and clothes every free chance they get), consumers and businesses alike are learning that simply delivering goods and services are becoming increasingly obsolete.

It's for this reason, that dozens of alternative delivery methods are popping up, hoping to tackle this problem and end it once and for all. With that in mind, here are 5 alternative delivery solutions that are disrupting the delivery industry and, most importantly, keeping the customer's sanity in mind.

Drones

It's been a couple of years since Amazon pushed us into the future by introducing Amazon Prime Air, their drone-based delivery system. Once the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes their drone regulations next year, Amazon will finally launch their drone-based service.

At first, Amazon announced that it'd want to deliver packages to consumers' doorsteps within 30 minutes of an order placement. But now, Amazon is pushing for a system that delivers to you wherever you are in that moment by using GPS data from your mobile device. Of course, like the other alternative delivery solutions, Amazon is not the only company looking to assemble delivery drones.

In fact, Amazon wasn't even the first company to successfully and legally deliver a package via drones! It was Flirtey, an Australian based startup that delivered medical supplies to a health clinic in Virginia. Similar to on-demand delivery, this futuristic same-day delivery solution is sure to bring about some major changes to today's delivery and supply chain industry.

On-Demand Delivery and Real-Time Tracking

It's no secret that hundreds of delivery companies are delving into the on-demand economy and mimicking the uber-successful Uber business model: that is, real-time notifications, tracking, and communication.

Bringg and similar platforms are trying to make on-demand delivery the international norm. In an on-demand delivery system, customers receive real-time tracking and notifications about their packages or service provider's whereabouts, meaning consumers can actually plan their days instead of anxiously waiting at home for their package to arrive.

Trust me, waiting around isn't fun at all. When I ordered my Huawei smartwatch, DHL tried keeping me in my house for almost 8 hours, until a good angry phone call did the trick.

Digital Lockers

I'm sure you've noticed Amazon's bright yellow lockers scattered around your town--they're pretty hard to miss. Amazon, UPS, as well as dozens of other locker-tech startups, are offering customers the option to pick up their packages from nearby electronic lockers. This is mostly a solution to apartment delivery concerns, since most apartment complexes don't offer full time concierge services.

Or, if you're anticipating an incredibly busy schedule in the coming weeks and know you won't be home to sit around waiting for your package. If there's no one to pick up the package, where does it go? That's why digital lockers are springing up in thousands of locations across both the US and Europe--to make package delivery and pickup that much easier for the consumer.

What's more, startups like Package Concierge are going one step further, by installing digital locker systems in apartment complexes and student dorms.

Parcel Stores

In addition to digital lockers, Amazon, UPS, DHL, and others permit consumers to pick up and drop off their packages from familiar locations like local newsagents, convenience stores, supermarkets, universities, gas stations and other local businesses--making the chances that there's a parcel location near your home or workplace that much higher. Amazon has Pickup Locations, UPS has Access Points, and DHL has Service Points. Still, the giants aren't the only ones capitalizing on the benefits of local parcel stores.

For example, CollectPlus has 5,800 parcel stores dispersed throughout the UK. Essentially, parcel stores offers a similar convenience to digital lockers, by letting consumers pick up and drop off deliveries on their own schedule, while also having the added perk of helping out local businesses.

Secret Hiding Places

The UK really seems to be on top of their alternative delivery solutions. In addition to CollectPlus, which I mentioned earlier, Royal Mail in the UK has an alternative delivery service called Safeplace.

This means, that consumers using Royal Mail for their deliveries can specify a secure location of their choice as their shipping address. If you're not home to receive your package, rather than having Royal Mail send your package back to the post office, the driver can leave it with a neighbor or place it somewhere discreet on your property, like under the porch or behind the bushes.

It's like a fun game of hide-and-seek for your package! Except that hopefully you know where the driver stashes it. Either way, once again, there's no need to sit at home waiting for your package--instead, you'll just need to check your flower pots before you walk in the door.

Published on: Nov 15, 2015