Walmart to Expand Drone Delivery in 2023? Last Year’s Success Shows Program’s Scalability

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
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Walmart drone delivery

Walmart already made strides in its drone delivery expansion plan as we headed into the holidays, but the company isn’t done yet. The brand recently highlighted the success of its program, which launched in 2021, showing quick growth is part of Walmart’s end goal. 

According to Walmart, so far, 36 stores across the country already have drone delivery hubs operated by partners Flytrex, Zipline, and DroneUp. And the company completed over 6,000 deliveries via drone in 2022 alone, taking 30 minutes or less to complete fulfillment after the order is placed. 

[Read more: Walmart Expanding Drone Delivery to 4 Million U.S. Households]

Only seven states are currently operating drone delivery, these include Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Utah, North Carolina, and Virginia. See which stores are eligible here.

For More on Walmart and Drones

Looking to hear more from Walmart and the industry’s overall plan for drone implementation? NRF 2023, Retail’s Big Show will be hosting a “But Will It Fly? The Lowdown on Drones” session at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, January 16. Hear from David Guggina, executive vice president of supply chain operations for Walmart, and other panelists, to learn about the increasing number of retailers that are adding drones to their portfolio of last mile options.

Also, hear from Anshu Bhardwaj, SVP, technology strategy and commercialization for Walmart Global Technology, on how to power retail success in an inflationary environment; Chris Brooks, director of sustainability for Walmart, on collaborative sustainability; and John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., for the event’s opening remarks and a chat with Harvard Business School.

This leaves several markets open for expansion, and Walmart highlighted the potential by stating that 4,700 of its stores are located within 90% of the U.S. population, making this effort incredibly scalable, especially as more than 85% of products in a neighborhood market meet the weight (10 pounds) and volume requirements for drone delivery.

So what products are Walmart customers routinely relying on for drone delivery? According to the company, favorites include Great Value cookies and cream ice cream, a 2lb bag of lemons, rotisserie chicken, red bull, and bounty paper towels. 

How It Works

In markets where Walmart offers drone delivery, customers who reside within a mile of a participating store can place orders through between 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. More than 10,000 Walmart items that weigh up to 10 pounds are eligible. While there are no order minimums, customers incur a delivery fee of $3.99.

Once packaged and loaded into the drone, items are then delivered using a cable that gently lowers the package into the customer’s yard. DroneUp drones are navigated by a team of FAA certified pilots

“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,” said Vik Gopalakrishnan, vice president, innovation and automation, Walmart U.S., earlier this year. “Being on the forefront of that innovation at Walmart is something we’re proud of. 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.”

An Overview of Walmart’s Drone Efforts

Walmart 2022 drone success
Walmart 2022 Drone Success; Credit: Walmart

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