Walmart launched an immediate drone delivery service for customers who live within 50 miles of its Headquarters in Arkansas.
A press release stated that the retailer has partnered Zipline, a drone company, to offer the new service. The system will deliver on-demand health and wellbeing and consumable items to customers within 50 miles of Pea Ridge’s Walmart Neighborhood Market.
“It’s unbelievably exciting, we’ve been working towards this day for many many years,” Zipline’s CEO Liam O’Connor told CBS News.
Zipline started operations in 2016. The company stated that Zipline has shipped over 200,000 units of medical equipment to over 20,000,000 people across several countries.
“We have done over 220,000 commercial deliveries in overseas markets,” O’Connor said. “For us, the promise of ultrafast delivery is really to give access to all kinds of communities to all kinds of products.”
CBS reports that items are placed in a box specially made with a parachute attached after Walmart has received an order online. After scanning packages, they’re attached with a parachute and then loaded onto a drone at the payload bay. A battery is installed in the drone before it’s launched for delivery from a 25-foot platform specially built for the aircraft.
The drone leaves for the customer’s home before dropping off the package and returning to its launch location. The company stated that customers can track their parcels through Zipline.
Walmart and Zipline will provide feedback to the service for free.
After a successful trial, Zipline and Walmart are planning to open stores across the country.
“If our customers enjoy the service we’ll scale it so in future holidays this is probably going to play a really great part in getting things in a hurry,” Tom Ward, who runs Walmart’s Last Mile delivery operation, told CBS.
“Customers expect us to save them money, they need us to save them time and when it comes to saving time what better way to do it than via a drone,” Ward said.
Following a successful pilot, Zipline is planning to grow its national presence. According to the release, Walmart’s delivery service has been extended to 3000 of its 10500 stores within the last three year, reaching 70% of America’s population.