Walgreens and Wing Aviation LLC, a member of the Alphabet family of companies and the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration, will offer drone delivery service to eligible residents of Christiansburg, Virginia, beginning in October. The companies will use the pilot program to further explore the future of health and wellness product and retail delivery through the air, offering product availability and home delivery minutes after placing orders via the Wing app.
“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,” says 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 omni-channel partnership and offering that can redefine convenience for our customers and communities—delivering items to homes in minutes, not hours or days.”
Christiansburg was selected as the test market as Wing has been working closely with nearby Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016. Although currently a pilot in one market, Walgreens is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store.
As customers’ change the way they shop and adopt new technologies, strategic partnerships like this one help Walgreens expand its omni-channel offerings to meet the needs of its customers’ lifestyles—whether it be a busy working mom or a consumer with limited transportation options—and deliver greater value, convenience and accessibility to products and services.
How Wing works
Eligible customers in the Christiansburg area will have access to more than 100 products and six convenient “packs” via the Wing app that include many of Walgreens’ most sought-after products in-store. Customers can either choose the individual products they need or select one of the pre-built packs in the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain and kids’ snacks. Prescription deliveries are not available via this service. The drone delivery option meets use cases where customers may want health and wellness or food and beverage items immediately, but leaving home is not ideal, like:
- Parents at home with a sick child can order the “baby pack” with items such as baby aspirin, water and more to nurse their little one back to health while never having to leave their side.
- Those with a common cold or flu can avoid spreading germs to others by ordering the “cough/cold pack” with a variety of cough and cold products needed to get healthy.
- For customers without transportation, Walgreens can deliver needed items direct to their doors via the Wing app.
Walgreens is the first U.S. retailer to test this on-demand delivery method. Along with Wing, it 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 in September.