Walmart announced last week that it's teaming up with Wing, an on-demand drone delivery provider powered by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to offer drone delivery from two stores in the Dallas metro area in the coming months. The move will enable the retail giant to deliver products to an additional 60,000 homes in under 30 minutes.
A Walmart Supercenter in Frisco, Texas, will be the first to launch, joining its existing network of 11 drone hubs already operating in the Dallas area. A second nearby Walmart store is set to launch before the end of the calendar year. The drones will deliver six days a week (every day except Wednesdays) from 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. CST.
In a blog post, Walmart said working with Wing directly aligns with its passion for finding innovative and eco-friendly last-mile delivery solutions to get customers the items they want, when they want them. Once operations begin, customers can download the Wing app and enter their address to determine if their home is within the Wing drone delivery range. Customers will be able to order items like household essentials, last-minute meal solutions, and even fragile items like eggs.
According to a Wing blog post, the drones are highly automated, "allowing operators to oversee the system from a remote location, which means pilots won’t need to be stationed at stores or customer homes. The aircraft essentially fly themselves, so each operator is approved to safely oversee many drones at the same time."
Total Retail's Take: This isn't the first time Walmart has experimented with drone deliveries. Two years ago, the retailer first started working with drones in an effort to make the convenience of drone delivery a reality for its customers. Over time, it's grown to offer drone delivery across seven states and 36 stores, completing more than 10,000 safe deliveries.
Walmart's use of drones is another way it's incorporating its physical stores into the order fulfillment process, a key advantage it has over its competitors, including Amazon.com. Walmart believes that the speed and convenience that it can offer by fulfilling online orders from its stores will be a differentiator for consumers, enticing them to make the big-box retailer their preferred online destination.
Related story: Walmart Expands Drone Delivery Service to 4M Households