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Logistics & Fulfilment

Made up of tens of thousands of islands, Indonesia looks to drone delivery

The first government-approved drone flight occurred in Indonesia this month, opening the door for commercial drone use in a country where reliable delivery to consumers spread out across tens of thousands of islands can be difficult if not impossible.

The flight was completed by leading Chinese retailer, JD.com, on 8 January, and delivered backpacks and books to students at MIS Nurul Falah Leles Elementary School in West Java, Indonesia.

JD.com was an early mover in Indonesia’s e-commerce sector, and currently serves more than 20 million customers and operates 10 warehouses across islands.

It believes the use of drones for e-commerce deliveries will help it reach its goal of being able to deliver 85 per cent of orders same or next-day in Indonesia.

“It is a privilege to have contributed to this important moment in Indonesia’s history,” said Jon Liao, JD.com’s chief strategy officer.

“We have been using drones for real deliveries in China for over two years now, and have seen the profound impact that the technology can have on people’s lives around the country.

“We look forward to working closely with WEF [World Economic Forum] and the Indonesian government to realize the full potential of this technology, and provide more convenience to Indonesian citizens.”

The e-commerce giant has been using drones to deliver goods in China since 2016, and announced plans in 2017 to develop heavy-duty drones capable of carrying up to one tonne across long distances.

Outside of China, however, commercial drone use for e-commerce deliveries is not widespread.

JD.com worked closely with its strategic partner, the WEF, and its partner, WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), on the drone pilot in Indonesia.

The C4IR has prioritised the use of drone technology to deliver supplies to areas in need, JD.com said it is committed to leveraging its logistics network and other resources to support humanitarian efforts like earthquake disaster relief.

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