Walgreens will be first retailer in U.S. to test on-demand drone delivery

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Walgreens will be first retailer in U.S. to test on-demand drone delivery
 
Published Friday, September 20, 2019
by DAN BERTHIAUME

Beginning in October, the drugstore giant and Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, will partner on a pilot of “store to door” delivery of health and wellness, food and beverage and convenience items via drone delivery. (Prescription deliveries are not available in the pilot.) According to Walgreens, customers will receive their orders within minutes of placing orders.

The pilot will make Walgreens the first retailer to offer on-demand drone delivery service in the U.S. The companies will launch the test in conjunction with FedEx in Christiansburg, Va. Eligible FedEx Express customers who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, and who opt in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive select packages via delivery drone.

The location was selected as the test market because Wing has been working with Virginia Tech in nearby Blacksburg, Va. to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s integration pilot program since 2016. Wing received certification as a small airline from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in April 2019, allowing the company to charge money to perform actual drone-based deliveries to consumers.

Eligible customers in the Christiansburg area will have access to more than 100 products and six pre-built “packs” of items via the Wing app. Customers can either choose the individual products they need or choose one of the pre-built packs in the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks.

Over the coming weeks, Wing and Walgreens will be reaching out to Christiansburg residents to provide additional information about the new offering. The companies will also be hosting a drone delivery demonstration for community members later this month.

“Walgreens continues to explore partnerships to transform and modernize our customer experience and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing,” said Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. “With a customer-led focus, we continue to create differentiated shopping experiences that provide the products and services consumers need wherever, whenever and however they may want them. This is the kind of omnichannel partnership and offering that can redefine convenience for our customers and communities – delivering items to homes in minutes, not hours or days.”


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