Companies

Walmart tests drone delivery amid escalating battle with Amazon

Bloomberg September 10 | Updated on September 10, 2020

Retailer piloting grocery deliveries from North Carolina store; Amazon recently certified by FAA to operate as drone airline

Walmart Inc is entering the drone delivery wars, its latest move to counter Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce as more Americans choose to shop from home.

The world’s largest retailer said it has started piloting drone delivery of grocery and household items from its stores in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The automated drones are from start-up Flytrex Aviation Ltd, and can fly about 6.2 miles carrying packages up to 6.6 pounds, according to the company’s website.

The move follows Walmart’s attempt to counter Amazon’s popular Prime service with its own membership offering, dubbed Walmart+, which debuts on September 15 and costs $98 a year.

The two rivals have both acquired millions of customers during the pandemic, thanks to their low prices and convenient shopping options, and the key now is to hold onto them by making it even easier to purchase the millions of items they carry.

“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer products, said in a blog post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where were learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers lives easier.”

Walmart first mentioned that it was testing drones at an investor meeting in October 2017, and in February said that it had drones flying around in some of its Sams Club warehouse locations to help manage inventory.

Published on September 10, 2020

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