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RETAIL STRATEGY

US retailer unveils an airborne home-delivery service by drone

By our News Team | 2022

Need a headache tablet fast? Or even a quick meal? A drone could be flying the order to your home in just 30 minutes.

Giant US retail chain Walmart is rolling out home deliveries by aerial drone to approximately 4-million households in six US states by the end of the year.

This will make it the country’s first large-scale drone delivery program to consumers, with the plan being to lower the order by cable as the drone hovers over the customer’s home.

In a blog post published on Tuesday (24 May), Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Innovation and Automation, David Guggina, said the company has been working on a drone delivery solution for the past year in conjunction with drone specialist DroneUp.

“Today we’re announcing we’ll be expanding our DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end the year, providing the potential to reach 4-million US households across six states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This provides us the ability to deliver over 1-million packages by drone in a year,” Guggina said.

Retail Strategy

Photo courtesy of Walmart

Service will operate between 8am-8pm

Between the hours of 8am and 8pm, customers will be able to order from tens of thousands of eligible items – such as [pain-relief medication] Tylenol, diapers (nappies) and hot dog buns – for delivery by air in as little as 30 minutes. For a delivery fee of US$3.99, customers can order items totalling up to 10 pounds (4.5kg). So, simply put, if it fits safely it flies.”

Participating Walmart stores in the six states will house a DroneUp delivery hub, inclusive of a team of certified pilots operating within Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) guidelines, in order to safely manage flight operations for deliveries. 

Once a customer places an order, the item is fulfilled from the store, packaged, loaded into the drone and delivered to their yard using a cable that gently lowers the package.

“After completing hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months across our existing DroneUp hubs, we’ve seen first-hand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items – fast,” Guggina stated.

“More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service. In fact, while we initially thought customers would use the service for emergency items, we’re finding they use it for its sheer convenience, like a quick fix for a weeknight meal.”

Read the full blog and watch a video of the drone delivery service here.

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