Wal-Mart is continuing to change the game and further themselves as the largest, most innovative, and most lucrative retailer in the world. Wal-Mart is making attempts to revolutionize their delivery methods through the use of drones.
According to Sarah Nassauer of the Wall Street Journal, “The world’s largest retailer by revenue asked the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter for permission to use outdoor unmanned aircraft to test everything from package delivery to inventory management” (WSJ). This is following a similar initiative brought up by Amazon around two years ago. Amazon was looking into using drones to deliver packages from their warehouses to their customers’ front doors. However, Wal-Mart and Amazon are not the only companies looking to make strides in using this type of technology. According to the article, “The FAA has issued more than 2,000 approvals in the past year to use drones commercially and the agency has recently accelerated such approvals” (WSJ). The drones are made by a company in China called, SZ DJI Technology Co., and they range in price from $1,260 to $3,500. While Amazon and other companies want to use these drones in order to make deliveries directly from warehouses to households, Wal-Mart wants to take another approach. “Wal-Mart wants to test drones to develop a more efficient way to monitor from the air the flow of products between its warehouses and delivery trucks as it shuttles goods around its U.S. stores” (WSJ). Along with this initiative, Wal-Mart also wants to work toward using the drones to transfer products directly from their stores to customers’ cars in the parking lot.
I believe Wal-Mart taking these strides to improve their shipping methods will eventually lead to increased income for the company and more importantly, an increase in customer satisfaction. However, this is not going to just happen over night. No matter how advanced drone technology is becoming, it will still take some time before Wal-Mart and other companies will be able to use them successfully. When the technology is finally ready I definitely think it will be worth the expensive investment to buy the drones themselves. Hadley Malcolm of USA Today states, “The exemption request said Wal-Mart's distribution system "could become more efficient and consumers could be better served" if it were able to engage in drone testing” (USA Today). Although the drones are quite expensive, I think they will end up paying for themselves in the end because more people will be attracted to Wal-Mart because of the advancement in customer service. I also think that it is a good idea to stray from competition in terms of how the drones are used. I think Wal-Mart will ultimately save money by focusing on using the drones between warehouses and delivery trucks, as well as retail stores and customers’ cars. It is much more expensive and time consuming to have drones make deliveries from stores all the way to people’s homes.