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Walgreens to test on-demand drone delivery with Wing

Walgreens to test on-demand drone delivery with Wing

Market news |
By Rich Pell



In what is being called an industry first, the companies say that beginning in October they are planning to begin pilot drone deliveries in Christiansburg, Virginia, bringing “unparalleled speed and convenience” of service to eligible local customers. The pilot program will be used 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,” says Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., “and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing.”

“With a customer-led focus,” says Sankaran, “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 – which in April became the first drone delivery company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA – 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. Looking beyond the test market, says Walgreens, it is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78% of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store.

In the drone pilot program, eligible FedEx Express 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 choose one of the pre-built packs available in several categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks.

Prescription deliveries will not be available via the service. The drone delivery option, says the company, meets use cases where customers may want health and wellness or food and beverage items immediately, but when leaving home is not ideal, such as in the following example cases:

  • Parents at home with a sick child can order the “baby pack” with items such as children’s ibuprofen, water, and more to nurse their child 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.
  • Customers without access to a car can receive what they need, when they want it, direct to their door via the Wing app.

Over the coming weeks, say the companies, they 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 later this month. Area residents interested in registering or learning more about the pilot program can visit wing.com/Virginia.

Walgreens
Wing

Related articles:
Google drone delivery unit gets FAA approval
Boeing invests in on-demand UAV delivery startup
Amazon unveils new Prime Air drone design
Uber unveils drone food delivery plans, new self-driving SUV

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