Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is Drone Technology Becoming a Norm in Retail?

                  With e-commerce expanding and becoming easier everyday, consumers are becoming more reliant on retail giants such as Wal-Mart to be able to efficiently and quickly delivery the goods that are ordered online. A rapidly growing, sometimes controversial technology that has the ability to revolutionize delivery is drone technology. Drones are unmanned aircrafts that can be used for various reasons, but until now, they were primarily used for military recon. In an effort to improve their product delivery systems, Wal-Mart is seeking permission to, and conducting research for a residential delivery of online orders using small drones.
         reports that Wal-Mart says its drone delivery system “could become more efficient and consumers could be better served, benefitting the public interest” They plan on focusing their drone system on residential areas. This article brings up the point about if the consumer is ready. How comfortable they are with drones carrying their possessions, and if they would even want to pay for the speedy delivery. According to its research, nearly 80% of consumers said they were more likely to shop at retailers that offer drone delivery. If granted the right to apply this new delivery system, they will join Amazon and Google in the delivery-drone race. This could be a way to improve delivery efficiency for Wal-Mart, but it could also just be to keep up with mammoth competition of Amazon and Google.
                  Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery was introduced in 2013 and while it faces similar challenges as Wal-Mart in technology and regulations, it has a substantial head start in the race. With probably the most innovating technology of any company in the world, Google has started a program called Project Wing. This project has the same goal as Wal-Mart and Amazon to delivery packages via drone, but with its superior robotics technology, Google has an edge on the competition. It has yet to develop a reliable ordering system but you can bet that Google has already made large steps to achieve the programs goal.

                  Wal-Mart could be in jeopardy of falling behind in the e-commerce market if it doesn’t develop its drone system in response to Amazon or Google. With such an immense competition, Wal-Mart cannot afford to fall behind. Who knows, in a few years drone delivery could be the norm in online shopping, and if Wal-Mart doesn’t start its research and development now, they could be too far behind to compete. Drone delivery will improve its delivery efficiency and speed, no doubt. But I think the real reason Wal-Mart is hustling to get its drone program off the ground is to stay in competition with other retailers who have already begun to take the next step in drone delivery technology.



  1. It will be very interesting to see how this will advance in the future, the ability to deliver via drone may increase the availability of same day delivery. Although Amazon does already have same day delivery, it is still very dependent on the location and item being purchased. Walmart might be able to cover more ground with the drones, which would likely earn them a short term advantage until either other companies catch on or a new rival replaces them. Also, because the purchase of the drones are a fixed cost, after the drones are bought, the main cost would be maintenance and fuel. The latter of which can be solved by new solar energy technology that can power the drone as it flies. Nevertheless, like all things, there is always a down side. The federal government is now requiring all drones to be bought and registered which could cause the cost to increase and the timeline of the implantation to be delayed. Also, this raises a major ethical question. If Walmart should use drones, who will stop them from attaching cameras? They can now find out information on where you live, cars you have and what you have around your house.

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