Where do carriers go next to stand out in a fiercely competitive market? Is it service - speed, precise delivery times, live tracking; method - drones, lockers, PUDOs; or Hermes' latest innovation, a message in, or more accurately on, a box?

Hermes' new service, branded Hermes Play, will enable senders to pre-record a video message which the recipient can watch on their phone or tablet when the parcel arrives. The feature aims to "make parcels personal again" according to Martijn de Lange, CEO of Hermes UK. However, with the ready availability of personal messaging platforms (i.e. WhatsApp and FaceTime), I wonder whether this will drive a significant consumer shift in a sector where speed and price are valued above all else.

Another development that feels more pertinent is FedEx's new autonomous delivery robot, which is being developed by the inventors of the Segway. It will be used among other things, as a delivery service for Pizza Hut. The bot, due to commence last-mile deliveries next Summer, is battery-powered and uses 'pedestrian-safe technology', capable of negotiating unpaved surfaces, curbs and even steps using lasers and multiple cameras.

Pizza Hut said the new tech would “redefine" deliveries during a fierce struggle for supremacy in the fast-evolving industry among the likes of Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat.