By Nathalie Voit
In a blog post shared on its website on May 24, Walmart said it was expanding its drone delivery network to 34 locations by the end of the year.
In conjunction with operator DroneUp, the big-box retailer said it was expanding its delivery operations to reach a potential of 4 million U.S. households across six states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
Customers who live in the vicinity of a Walmart DroneUp delivery hub can get items delivered by air in as little as 30 minutes.
Orders will be fulfilled, packaged, and loaded in-store before being flown remotely to peoples’ homes by a certified pilot. A cable on the drone gently lowers the package to a customer’s yard or driveway.
Clients will be able to place orders of up to 10 pounds for a small service fee of $3.99. Walmart said the network will operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“After completing hundreds of deliveries within a matter of months across our existing DroneUp hubs, we’ve seen firsthand how drones can offer customers a practical solution for getting certain items, fast. More importantly, we’ve seen a positive response from our customers that have used the service,” Walmart said in the release.
The Bentonville, AK-based retailer said it had been surprised to find out customers would use the service to order everyday staples. Walmart had originally anticipated the drones would be used exclusively for emergency products such as over-the-counter medication. Instead, the top-selling item at one Walmart drone-delivery site, for example, is Hamburger Helper.
“The customer has always been at the center of our focus at Walmart, and we look for partners that are as laser-focused on customer experience as we are. DroneUp has been a reliable partner as we’ve tested this solution, and their capabilities will enable our business to scale with speed while maintaining a high caliber of safety and quality,” Walmart said.
The retailer hopes to deliver up to 1 million packages by drone per year.