Walgreens will be first U.S. retailer to test on-demand drone delivery
Walgreens and Alphabet’s Wing Aviation are partnering to make drone delivery of items from Walgreens stores a reality. Starting next month, consumers in Christiansburg, Va., will be able to order items from Walgreens using the Wing app for delivery within minutes via drone.
Wing was certified as the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Commission earlier this year. Walgreens said the pilot would be used to explore the future of health-and-wellness product and retail delivery by air.
“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 of Walgreens Boots Alliance. “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.”
The companies said Christiansburg was selected as the test market because Wing has been working closely with Virginia Tech in nearby Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the Department of Transportation’s pilot program since 2016. Walgreens said that if the pilot proves promising and the service is expanded, its store base — with roughly 78% of Americans living within 5 miles of a Walgreens-owned store — is poised to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery. It also noted that this is part of its efforts to expand its omnichannel offerings to meet the needs of its shoppers while delivering on value, convenience and accessibility.
Eligible customers in Christiansburg will be able to choose in the Wing app between more than 100 products and six “packs that include some of Walgreens’ most-bought products. They can shop in the allergy, baby, cough-cold, first aid, pain and kids’ snacks categories. Prescription deliveries will not be available via this service. The ideal need state is a consumer who needs such items but can’t leave home, for example, a parent with a sick child at home could order the “baby pack,” which contains baby aspirin, water and other necessities. Other packs include the “cough-cold pack.”
The companies said they would be reaching out to area residents to provide additional information about the drone delivery offering, with plans to host a demonstration later this month.