Drones Off (and Delivering) for Walgreens

Tim Binder
Executive Editor
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A "Walgreens Stories" blog post by Brittany Kurk of Walgreens News documented the start of the retailer’s drone delivery pilot with Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet.

According to the post, representatives from Walgreens and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) were on hand Oct. 18 in Christiansburg, VA, to see the first customer order delivered by drone.

“This trial allows us to be one of the first retailers in the U.S. to offer the unparalleled speed and convenience of ‘store to door’ delivery via state-of-the-art drone technology,” said Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, according to the blog. “Our focus right now is on providing a great experience for our customers in Christiansburg, and getting feedback on how they can best use the service.”

Christiansburg is located close to Blacksburg, VA – home to Virginia Tech University, which has worked with Wing since 2016 to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program. The drones used by Wing weigh approximately 10 pounds with wings that span 3 feet. They pick up a package, fly to the delivery location and gently lower the package to the ground at a precise spot chosen by the customer (e.g., in a backyard or near a doorstep). The Wing app informs customers of the exact delivery time.

In addition to the products on the Wing app — 100-plus OTC medicines, wellness products, foods, beverages and convenience items (prescription deliveries are not available via this service) — customers can opt to receive one of six ready-made packs: kids snacks, first aid, allergy, pain, baby care and cough/cold.

“As our customers change the way they shop and adopt new technologies, strategic partnerships help us expand our omnichannel offerings and bring innovative solutions to the marketplace, meeting the needs of our customers’ evolving lifestyles and delivering greater value, convenience and accessibility to our products and services,” Sankaran said, according to the blog.