Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird…it’s a plane…ummmm it’s actually a first aid kit and snacks from Walgreens coming in by drone. That could be the scenario in your neighborhood in the not too distant future.
Walgreens and Wing, a member of the Alphabet family of companies, are partnering on an industry first that will offer unparalleled speed and convenience of “store to door” delivery of health and wellness, food and beverage and convenience items – via state-of-the-art drone technology – in minutes.
Walgreens, with a heritage of innovation in pharmacy and retail, and Wing Aviation LLC, the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year, will begin offering drone delivery service to eligible residents of Christiansburg, Virginia beginning next month. The companies will utilize the pilot program 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.
Vish Sankaran is Chief Innovation Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. Sankaran says, “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,” and adds, “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.”
Christiansburg was selected as the test market as Wing 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. 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 Wing partnership is a strong complement to other successful Walgreens collaborations. As customers’ change the way they shop and adopt new technologies, strategic partnerships like this one help Walgreens expand its omni-channel offerings to meet the needs of its customers’ lifestyles – whether it be a busy working mom or a consumer with limited transportation options – and deliver greater value, convenience and accessibility to products and services.
Here’s How It Works according to Walgreens:
Eligible 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 or, for simplicity’s sake, choose one of the pre-built packs in the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks. Prescription deliveries are not available via this service. The drone delivery option meets use cases where customers may want health and wellness or food and beverage items immediately, but leaving home is not ideal. For example:
- Parents at home with a sick child can order the “baby pack” with items such as children’s ibuprofen, water and more to nurse their little one back to health while never having to leave their side.
- Those with a common cold or flu can avoid spreading germs to others by ordering the “cough/cold pack” with a variety of cough and cold products needed to get healthy.
- No car? No problem. Walgreens now delivers what you need, when you want it, direct to your door via the Wing app.
Over the coming weeks, Wing and Walgreens will be reaching out to Christiansburg residents to provide additional information about the new offering. The companies will also be hosting a drone delivery demonstration for community members later this month. Area residents in that region who are interested in registering or learning more about the pilot program can visit wing.com/Virginia.
Walgreens, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains, is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Approximately 8 million customers interact with Walgreens in stores and online each day, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice.
As of August 31, 2018, Walgreens operates 9,560 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with its omnichannel business, Walgreens.com. Additionally, approximately 400 Walgreens stores offer Healthcare Clinic or other provider retail clinic services.