Walmart announced on June 16th, 2021 that they will continue to invest in drone delivery companies and that services are to start in a store possibly near you in coming months. The operations are set to begin at an Arkansas store within months. By employing drones to customers that live in close proximity to its stores, Walmart is getting ready to offer even faster delivery services.
Walmart made an undisclosed investment in service provider, DroneUp, as they partnered with them just a year ago to test drone deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. Because they “safely complet[ed] hundreds of drone deliveries from Walmart stores.”* The company is now confident in making a further investment that operates commercially as well as in its capacity as an authorized government drone services provider.
John Furner, CEO and president at Walmart U.S., stated:
“In our ongoing effort to get customers the items they want – and fast – we know it will take a well-coordinated network of delivery solutions that span the streets, sidewalks and skies. Some of these solutions are still emerging but they’re already showing encouraging results.”*
Furner said that their company discovered, through the period of the test trial, that it could offer its shoppers delivery in just minutes rather than in hours. During these tests, Walmart completed hundreds of drone deliveries from its stores and is now poised to offer delivery services to a network of customers.
Walmart is fortunate enough at this time to have a large portion of the drone infrastructure already in place. This comprises no less than 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most purchased items located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. As Furner pointed out, this makes it “uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries.”*
Furner, confidently stated that the first drone deliveries will begin as soon as in a few months at a store near the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. He explained:
“Conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach. DroneUp’s expertise, combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit.”*
Like Walmart, its rival Amazon, which has its own fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, is also ready to join the drone delivery segment. In fact, Amazon received federal approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its Prime Air delivery drones in the U.S. as early as last August (2020).
Furner not only pointed out that “conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach,“ but also that “DroneUp’s expertise combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit.”*
With retail giants, such as Walmart and Amazon, positioning themselves for drone delivery services, it is only a matter of months before such services become a reality on a mass scale. John Furner, CEO and president at Walmart U.S., summarizes well the prospects for drone delivery services with the statement, “When it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit.”*