In an ongoing effort to get customers the items they want, and fast, Walmart knows it will take a well-coordinated network of delivery solutions that span the streets, sidewalks and skies. Some of these solutions are still emerging but they’re already showing encouraging results, according to John Furner, CEO and president of Walmart’s U.S. business.
In a recent memo, Furner said that Walmart had partnered last year with DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, to launch trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. The trial demonstrated Walmart could offer customers delivery in minutes versus hours. Now, after safely completing hundreds of drone deliveries from Walmart stores, the company is making an investment in DroneUp to continue its work toward developing a scalable last mile delivery solution.
DroneUp operates an on-demand drone delivery network that matches its database of more than 10,000 Federal Aviation Administration certified pilots to missions nationwide.
“Since partnering with DroneUp last year, we’ve valued their technological expertise, world-class operations and experienced management team – and their commitment to helping the FAA ensure the highest levels of safety with every delivery,” Furner stated. “As a well-respected industry innovator, DroneUp was the first operator to use the FAA 107.39 waiver, an operation that allows for delivery flights to be conducted over people and moving vehicles. DroneUp operates commercially throughout the U.S. and is an authorized government drone services provider for 11 U.S. states serving public sector organizations.”
Walmart already has a significant part of the infrastructure in place – 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. This makes it uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries, which is why its investment in DroneUp won’t just apply to the skies but also the ground. In the coming months, it’ll be beginning its first operation at a store in Bentonville, Arkansas, Furner stated.
In April, Walmart announced a similar investment in Cruise, an all-electric autonomous vehicle company. Through these commitments, it is learning how these technologies can get customers the items they need, Furner stated.
“Conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach. DroneUp’s expertise combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit,” he stated.
“The drone services industry has reached an inflection point of rapidly increased adoption and acceptance. Walmart and DroneUp are uniquely positioned to succeed in the next chapter of last-mile delivery. Walmart’s vast hub-and-spoke network, combined with DroneUp’s extensive operational expertise, will unlock affordable rapid delivery and nationwide drone services,” said Tom Walker, founder and CEO of DroneUp.