So far, Walmart is achieving some positive results with its drone delivery program.
According to the discount giant, it completed more than 6,000 deliveries via drone during 2022, within 30 minutes or less after the customer placed their order. Thirty-six Walmart stores located across the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia, have drone delivery hubs operated by drone providers DroneUp (Walmart made an unspecified investment in DroneUp in June 2021), Flytrex, and Zipline.
Walmart says that 85% of the items sold in one of its Neighborhood Market stores meet the weight and volume requirements for drone delivery. Top-selling items for drone delivery orders include cookies, ice cream, bags of lemons, rotisserie-cooked chickens, and paper towels.
Looking ahead, Walmart plans to use its U.S. base of 4,700 stores located within 90% of the country’s population to offer drone delivery services at scale. In a recent survey from route optimization software provider Circuit, Walmart was named the most trusted company for automated and drone-based food deliveries, as well as second-most trusted overall provider of automated and drone-based deliveries, behind Amazon.
Walmart drone delivery – a brief history
Following initial launch of its DroneUp partnership with drone-based deliveries from three stores in Northwest Arkansas in late 2021, Walmart is now providing the service via DroneUp in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
The retailer also launched a drone-based instant delivery service at a Neighborhood Market store in Pea Ridge, Ark, in partnership with carbon-free drone provider Zipline in fall 2021.
In September 2020, the retailer partnered with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp to pilot drone delivery of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits, and also kicked off a pilot with end-to-end drone delivery company Flytrex to deliver select grocery and household essentials from its stores using automated drones.
How it works
Drones can deliver more than 10,000 eligible Walmart items up to 10 pounds, including fragile items like eggs, in as little as 30 minutes. There are no order minimums and the delivery fee is $3.99. Once the items are packaged and loaded into the drone, the order is then delivered using a cable that gently lowers the package into the customer’s yard.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team for creating the largest drone delivery footprint of any U.S. retailer and providing customers with an incredibly fast – and innovative – option for delivery,” said Vik Gopalakrishnan, VP, innovation & automation, Walmart U.S., in comments provided to Chain Store Age. We’re encouraged by the positive response from customers and look forward to making even more progress in 2023.”