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Walgreens to test drone delivery service

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Walgreens to test drone delivery service
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens plans to begin using drones to deliver products to select customers in the Christiansburg, Va., market next month.

The company is partnering with Wing Aviation LLC, a member of the Alphabet family of companies, to test a service that promises to let people order health and wellness, food, beverage and convenience items with an app and get them delivered to their homes in minutes.

“Walgreens continues to explore partnerships to transform and modernize our customer experience and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing,” Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, said in a statement. “With a customer-led focus, 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.”

Although currently a pilot in one market, Walgreens is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store.

The collaboration with Wing is an example of the kind of strategic partnerships Walgreens is forging in order to expand its omni-channel offerings to meet the needs of its customers.

Christiansburg was selected as the test market because Wing has been working since 2016 with Virginia Tech, in nearby Blacksburg, Va., to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program.  Earlier this year Wing became the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Walgreens says eligible customers in the Christiansburg area will have access to more than 100 products and six convenient pre-built “packs” via the Wing app. (Pescription deliveries are not available via this service.)

The drone delivery option is designed to situations where someone wants certain health and wellness or food and beverage items immediately, but is not in a position to make a store run. A parent with a sick child could order the “baby pack” to get items like baby aspirin and water without having to leave the child’s side, for example. People suffering from the cold or flu could get the cough and cold products they need without the risk of spreading their germs to others, and those who don’t have access to a car would be able to get the products they need or want delivered to their door.

Wing and Walgreens will be letting Christiansburg residents know about the service in the coming weeks, and will be hosting a drone delivery demonstration for community members later this month. Area residents interested in registering or learning more about the pilot program can find out more here.


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