In what is being called an industry first, the companies say that beginning in October they are planning to begin pilot drone deliveries in Christiansburg, Virginia, bringing "unparalleled speed and convenience" of service to eligible local customers. The pilot program will be used to further explore the future of health and wellness product and retail delivery through the air, offering product availability and home delivery minutes after placing orders via the Wing app.
"Walgreens continues to explore partnerships to transform and modernize our customer experience," says Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., "and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing."
"With a customer-led focus," says Sankaran, "we continue to create differentiated shopping experiences that provide the products and services consumers need wherever, whenever and however they may want them. This is the kind of omni-channel partnership and offering that can redefine convenience for our customers and communities – delivering items to homes in minutes, not hours or days.”
Christiansburg was selected as the test market as Wing - which in April became the first drone delivery company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA - has been working closely with nearby Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Integration Pilot Program since 2016. Looking beyond the test market, says Walgreens, it is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78% of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store.
In the drone pilot program, eligible FedEx Express customers in the Christiansburg area will have access to more than 100 products and six convenient "packs" via the Wing app that include many of Walgreens most sought-after products in store. Customers can either choose the individual products they need