“Drone delivery makes it possible for our customers to shop those last minute or forgotten items with ease, in a package that’s frankly really cool. Being on the forefront of that innovation at Walmart is something we’re proud of,” says Vik Gopalakrishnan, Vice President, Innovation & Automation, Walmart U.S.
“It may seem like a futuristic option, but it’s giving our customers what they’ve always wanted, and that’s time back to focus on what is most important to them.”
Progress is undeniably being made, but drones remain a big question mark in our mind.
As Celia Van Wickel, Global Head Omnichannel Analytics at Mars, said in an interview in the second edition of RTIH magazine: “I love big picture thinking, and drones fit that bill, but it does not make as much sense as other technology.”
“There are so many hurdles, from FAA regulations to costs, that need to be aligned. I see the use cases in healthcare, but in online fulfilment drones need a lot of improvement.”
She added: “Drones cannot fulfil larger orders in which weight is a problem. The cost is sky high to fulfil orders and needs to be below $5 per order as other Amazon fulfilment.”
“Amazon is still in the baby stages, still piloting. Walmart is more aggressive. Drones are also a 1:1 delivery mechanism which does not bode well for profitability.”
“Delivery of one box of Cheez-It crackers via drones is not profitable.”
Expect more significant developments from the likes of Amazon and Walmart throughout 2023.
But also expect drone deliveries to remain a futuristic thing for many other retailers, as various challenges, most notably ongoing economic turbulence, see them prioritise other options.