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Walmart Inc. is entering the drone delivery wars, its latest move to counter Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in e-commerce as more Americans choose to shop from home.
The world’s largest retailer said it has started piloting drone delivery of grocery and household items from its stores in Fayetteville, N.C. The automated drones are from startup Flytrex Aviation Ltd., and can fly about 6.2 miles carrying packages up to 6.6 pounds, according to the company’s website.
The move follows Walmart’s attempt to counter Amazon’s popular Prime service with its own membership offering, dubbed Walmart+, which debuts Sept. 15 and costs $98 a year. The two rivals have both acquired millions of customers during the pandemic thanks to their low prices and convenient shopping options, and the key now is to hold onto them by making it even easier to purchase the millions of items they carry.
Today, we're announcing a new pilot with @flytrexcom, an end-to-end drone delivery company. We’re looking forward to learning how these technologies can help us better serve our customers. https://t.co/zotWg5lQLJ pic.twitter.com/LVDFOO56RS— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) September 9, 2020
“We know that it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer products, said in a blog post. “That still feels like a bit of science fiction, but we’re at a point where we’re learning more and more about the technology that is available and how we can use it to make our customers’ lives easier.”
Walmart first mentioned that it was testing drones at an investor meeting in October 2017, and in February said that it had drones “flying around” in some of its Sam’s Club warehouse locations to help manage inventory.
Walmart ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.
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