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Walmart partners with Google parent for drone delivery

Walmart Wing drone
Walmart is partnering with Alphabet Wing for drone delivery.

The drone technology subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet will support deliveries via drone at select Walmart stores.

Walmart, which initially launched drone-based deliveries from three stores in Northwest Arkansas in late 2021now offers it across seven states and 36 stores, and says it has completed more than 10,000 safe deliveries. Now the discounter is teaming up with Wing, an on-demand drone delivery provider powered by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Walmart will offer the service from two stores in the Dallas metro area in the coming months, enabling the retailer to reach an additional 60,000 homes. Utilizing drones that can fly beyond visual line of sight, Walmart says it can provide on-demand delivery for customers living within an approximate six-mile range of the stores that offer the service.

A Walmart Supercenter in Frisco, Texas, will be the first to store to launch delivery via Wing drones, joining the retailer’s existing network of 11 drone hubs already operating in the Dallas area.

Once operations begin, customers will be able download the Wing app for iOS or Android device and enter their address to determine if their home is within the Wing drone delivery range. Customers will be able to order items like frozen treats, household essentials, last-minute meal solutions, and fragile items like eggs.

Walmart’s existing drone delivery hubs are operated by drone providers DroneUp (Walmart made an unspecified investment in DroneUp in June 2021), Flytrex, and Zipline. The retailer 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.

Walmart drone delivery – a brief history

Following initial launch of its DroneUp partnership in 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. 

“This is an exciting next step for our customers, as it provides even more access to a convenient, innovative and – most importantly – super speedy way to get the items they need,” Prathibha Rajashekhar, senior VP innovation & automation, Walmart U.S.., said in a corporate blog post. “The outlook is clear for drone delivery: The sky really is the limit.”

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