By Tom Ward, Senior Vice President, Customer Product, Walmart
Customers today are busier than ever, which is why every day we’re finding new ways to make their lives easier. At the same time, our history of innovation, a foundation laid by our founder Sam Walton, has us committed to learning how new technology can better serve customers.
We recently announced we’re exploring how drones can deliver items in a way that’s convenient, safe and fast. In our latest initiative, we are teaming up with Zipline to launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S. The new service will make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness products with the potential to expand to general merchandise.
Trial deliveries will take place near Walmart’s headquarters here in Northwest Arkansas using Zipline’s proprietary technology which is, simply put, really cool.
Zipline will operate from a Walmart store and can service a 50-mile radius, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut. And, not only does their launch and release system allow for quick on-demand delivery in under an hour, but it also eliminates carbon emissions, which lines up perfectly with our sustainability goals. The operation will likely begin early next year, and, if successful, we’ll look to expand.
Zipline, which operates the world’s largest drone delivery network, began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda primarily focusing on the on-demand delivery of medical supplies. To date, they’ve safely delivered more than 200,000 critical medical products to thousands of health facilities serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries. This uniquely positions them for national-scale operations across the United States.
As we continue to build upon the foundation of innovation laid for us by Mr. Sam, we’ll never stop looking into and learning about what the next best technology is and how we can use it to better serve our customers now and into the future.