Walmart piloting drone delivery

Stewart Samuel
Program Director - Canada
@RetailAnalysis

Date : 09 September 2020

Walmart is partnering with Flytrex to pilot drone delivery for grocery and household essential items.

Understand the associate and customer experience

The pilot is taking place in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The goal of is to take learnings which could form the basis of a larger-scale drone delivery programme. The drones, which are controlled over the cloud using a smart and easy control dashboard, will provide insight into the customer and associate experience, from picking and packing to take-off and delivery.

Source: Walmart

Improving last-mile efficiency and reducing costs

This initiative is the latest in a number of programmes at Walmart focused on last-mile delivery. Earlier this year, it partnered with self-driving vehicle company, Nuro, in the Houston market, while last year it worked with Udelv to test its autonomous delivery vans in Surprise, Arizona. Retailers in North America are currently testing several fulfillment and delivery models as they look to reduce channel costs. These include hyper-local robotic fulfillment, third-party crowd-sourced delivery platforms and shared centralised distribution models.

Pilots focused on learnings

This builds on several other pilot drone programmes in the US market. These will help the retailers to address some of the technical issues associated with drone delivery and understand which types of products are best suited for this mode of delivery. Last month, Amazon received US government certification to operate as a drone airline. This enables the retailer to make its first commercial deliveries by drone. Last October, Walgreens partnered with Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, to trial a drone delivery service in Virginia, while 7-Eleven made the first commercial delivery by drone in the US in 2016 .

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