Amazon may have been teasing us with promises of aerial deliveries since 2013, but it’s retail giant Walmart that’s proving that being the first to announce a program doesn’t necessarily guarantee an industry leader spot. Teaming up with Virginia-based drone startup DroneUp, Walmart has begun commercial drone delivery services in northwestern Arkansas this week.
Walmart’s first multisite commercial drone delivery operations encompass three locations in Arkansas: Farmington, Rogers, and Bentonville. Of these, the Farmington location has already started to deliver items to eligible Walmart customers by air in as little as 30 minutes.
How to place a Walmart drone delivery order
Orders are placed through droneupdelivery.com. Firstly, visit the website and enter your address to verify eligibility. If Walmart’s drones are flying in your location (currently Farmington, Arkansas), you will be able to select from thousands of items for delivery.
Operators will pack your order and secure the delivery box to a drone using a patented package release mechanism. Lastly, the flight engineer will manage a controlled and guided delivery, placing the order gently at your home.
That Walmart takes drone delivery operations seriously became evident when the company picked up a significant stake in DroneUp earlier this year. The retailer already has an enviable last-mile delivery program in place with more than 4,700 stores stocked with 120,000 of the most purchased items located within 10 miles of over 90% of the US population. In addition, Walmart plans to allow small-town shops also to use its network of delivery drones through the GoLocal platform.
Explains Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile at Walmart US:
When we invested in DroneUp earlier this year, we envisioned a drone delivery operation that could be quickly executed and replicated across multiple stores. Opening our first hub within months of our initial concept showcases DroneUp’s ability to safely execute drone delivery operations with speed. We’re already hearing great customer feedback at our first site in Farmington, Arkansas, and look forward to opening additional locations.
Stressing that the launch of Walmart’s aerial delivery service marks a significant leap forward in the broader use of drones to provide last-mile consumer delivery services and supply chain efficiency options, DroneUP CEO Tom Walker adds:
Walmart and DroneUp provide an unrivaled ability to pick, pack, and deliver via drones directly from the store to consumers offering efficiencies no other retailer can match. We are proud of our team’s ability to deliver the technology helping Walmart launch a new era of commercial drone operations.
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