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07/08/2020

Regional grocer enters drone space

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Rouses Markets is joining the rarified air of retailers with drone delivery pilots.

Family-owned, Mobile, Alabama-based Rouses Markets operates 64 grocery stores across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The regional chain is partnering with Deuce Drone to test an unmanned grocery delivery pilot program this fall. 

The pilot will demonstrate Deuce Drone’s Aerial Drone Delivery Interface System (ADDIS) at a Rouses Market store in Mobile. ADDIS includes automated operation of the drone’s landing, recharging and package handling systems. All portions of the drone and the related activities of ADDIS meet or exceed federal, state, and local regulations and codes. 

Rouses Markets already offers personal shopping and delivery services that enable customers to shop online and get deliveries in as little as an hour. 

“Drone delivery offers the fastest, safest delivery store to door,” said Donny Rouse, CEO of Rouses Markets. “We should be able to get groceries to customers in 30 minutes or even less. Plus it’s more cost-efficient, meaning we can save customers time and money.”

To date, publicized drone delivery pilots have involved national retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS. Major technology platforms including Google and Uber, as well as global delivery providers such as UPS and FedEx, are also involved in piloting and developing on-demand drone delivery services. 

But if it proves successful, Rouses Markets’ pilot will mark a turning point in the emergence of drone delivery as a mainstream omnichannel shopping offering. The ability of regional Tier II and Tier III retailers to cost-effectively provide drone delivery will greatly increase the technology’s potential penetration of the U.S. consumer market.