Walgreens, one of the nation’s oldest and best-known drugstore chains, has had some amazing years in recent years. In addition to providing many retail services to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has also been committed to robust innovation, including its bold shift to value-based primary care in partnership with VillageMD.
In its latest venture, Walgreens announced earlier this month that it would work with Alphabet subsidiary (Google’s parent company), Wing, to launch drone delivery services in the first major US city.
The service, which is initially launching in the Dallas Ft. Worth (DFW) metroplex, is expected to be a pilot as the company eventually hopes to expand drone delivery to other cities. The whole process has been systematically designed: “Customers in the DFW area will be able to order through Wing’s mobile app. Walgreens team members will then be notified of incoming orders on the shelves provided by Wing and will locate the items on the shelves and pack them. After undergoing FAA-validated training, they were allowed to attach these packages to the drones, which wait at charging stations in the parking lot. Once attached, Wing associates oversee delivery to homes, backyards, or any other preferred location customers choose in their homes.
I’ve written about Wing in the past and how Alphabet has invested in technology to make it one of the toughest drone systems in the world. Indeed, drone technology, especially for supply chain and distribution systems, is rapidly becoming commonplace. For example, Amazon, one of the world’s largest retailers, is rapidly expanding its drone technology in hopes of mainstreaming its PrimeAir delivery service. Walmart has also invested in its own partnerships, also aiming to eventually use drones for its delivery services. Indeed, this seems to be the way of the future.
This venture of Walgreens and Alphabet is sure to be successful. Walgreens mission is to create as much convenience as possible for its customers. Drones will allow goods to be delivered to customers even faster than curbside pickup and delivery by third-party vendors, ushering in a new era of customer fulfillment logistics.
Alphabet must also succeed in this partnership. As the company refines its offerings in this space and perfects its technology, the potential to work with many companies in a variety of industries is staggering. Besides retail uses, drones have already proven their worth in a plethora of other applications, including healthcare delivery, security, tactical warfare, and surveillance. Undoubtedly, this is just the beginning of Alphabet’s adventures in this industry.
Undoubtedly, this partnership between Walgreens and Alphabet is only the beginning of the commercial use of drones. If drone technology can indeed be developed in a safe, secure and efficient way, it will bring value to billions of people around the world.