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Retailer debuts U.S. consumer drone delivery – and it’s not Amazon


The first fully autonomous drone delivery to a customer home has occurred, and the retailer behind it is not who you would expect.


Leading convenience chain 7-Eleven partnered with independent drone delivery service Flirtey and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) to complete two deliveries from a store in Reno, Nevada on Sunday, July 10. 7-Eleven merchandise, including hot and cold food items, were loaded into a Flirtey drone delivery container and flown autonomously using precision GPS to a local customer’s house.


Once at the family’s backyard, the Flirtey drone hovered in place and lowered each package. The purchases were delivered to the family in the span of a few minutes. Products included Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy. In the future, both companies expect drone packages to include CPG products such as batteries and sunscreen. The delivery was conducted in celebration of 7-Eleven’s 89th birthday.


“Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience,” said Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins, executive VP and chief merchandising officer of 7-Eleven. “This delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home. In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes. We look forward to working with Flirtey to deliver to our customers exactly what they need, whenever and wherever they need it.”


This event marks a major development in omnichannel retailing. There is still a long way to go before drones become a mainstream fulfillment mechanism, but clearly home delivery will look different in 10 years than it looks today. The fact that 7-Eleven, rather than Amazon or Walmart, was the first to perform a full-fledged drone delivery is also a sign that drones may become quite commonplace as a feature of all types of retail transactions. Other food retailers, including fast food and quick service chains as well as convenience operators, will also surely take note of how well drones fit into the model of delivering hot or chilled food items in a short time span.

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