Amazon Prime Air Prepares for Drone Deliveries
Amazon.com said Monday it will begin delivering parcels using Prime Air drones in a small town in California later this year. More specifically, the online behemoth said it plans to deliver parcels weighing less than five pounds via drone into the backyards of residents in Lockeford, California — which is 40 miles south of Sacramento. The parcels will be able to contain products gleaned from a facility 15 miles away. Amazon said the drone technology is safe and can detect and fly around obstacles like chimneys.
Amazon also said it will use its learnings from this test in Lockeford to improve the service when it expands it. Furthermore, the company added that Lockeford has historic links to the aviation industry as Weldon B. Cooke, an early pioneer of aviation who built and flew planes in the early 1900s, is a former resident.
Total Retail's Take: No, this isn't deja vu: Jeff Bezos first floated the concept of drone deliveries for Amazon customers in 2015, but the company could never move the needle on the project thanks to strict FAA rules that govern the use of commercial drones. In 2020, however, the FAA finally awarded Amazon its certification to operate drones for delivery service, which ultimately enabled it to launch the drone delivery program.
So, why is there so much interest in drones? What makes them so appealing to companies that deliver products? Simply put, drones enable companies to get items quickly, cost effectively, and safely to customers in less than an hour. Firms like Alphabet and Walmart, for example, have already started to make similar drone deliveries. In particular, Walmart announced late last month that it's expanding its drone delivery program to reach 4 million households in parts of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia this year.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.