In 2013, Jeff Bezos predicted that Amazon would make drone delivery a regular occurrence within four to five years, solidifying the company’s placement as an innovator in the retail sector. As using drones became prevalent throughout other markets, Amazon was seen as the standard bearer for drone development and last mile logistics innovation.
Drone skeptics predicted numerous obstacles to conquer to earn the blessing of governments and society. The notion of unmanned aerial cars crisscrossing cities with customer bundles leaves many with an alien taste in their mouth. All the same, it appeared that if any type of firm could successfully bring the concept of drone delivery to industrial fulfillment, it would be Amazon. Afterall, for the past decade they’ve been on the forefront of innovating ecommerce distribution for the last decade.
Drone Delivery – Clear for Take Off by the US Government
In 2020, the United States Federal Aeronautics Administration gave Amazon the authorization needed to run a fleet of distribution drones. Yet as we enter 2024, years after Bezos exposed his vision, Walmart, not Amazon, has actually made the most successful venture into the brave brand-new world of airborne door-to-door transport.
Walmart Leading in Drone Delivery Application
Despite Amazon’s Prime Air division’s limited progress, Walmart has successfully completed 6,000 areal deliveries in the United States this year.
Walmart outsources its drone delivery operations to three partner companies, Zipline, DroneUp, and Flytrex. Alternatively, Amazon manages its drone deliveries in-house. These Walmart partners operate from 36 areal delivery hubs located at Walmart stores in seven US states, delivering packages on Walmart’s behalf.
Walmart’s Future in Last Mile Logistics
Walmart’s gone on record, declaring that they intend to target 1,000,000 drone deliveries per year. In addition, they are targeting customers within 1.6 kilometers of a store containing a launch site. Up to 20,00 items will be available for purchase. And here’s the kicker – they want delivered times dialed down to 30 minutes of placing an order.
Amazon’s Drone Delivery in 2024
So – can Walmart surpass Amazon’s standing as the leader in retail delivery? It would be impractical to discount Amazon out. But this new delivery mode will certainly disrupt the current balance of power in last mile logistics between the two companies.
Don’t count Amazon out, just yet. This last November, the company showcased a cutting-edge drone that outperforms its predecessor and is set to enter service here in 2024. However, Amazon does not seem rushed to pre-maturely launch a nation-wide drone delivery program. In fact, Amazon recently cut costs, including layoffs and reduced investment in innovative technologies, such as drone delivery. As a result, this may give Walmart an opportunity to take the lead in last-mile delivery via its partnership strategy.