Drone wars? Sounds like something out of this world, right? Dangerous? Not exactly. Drones have been around for years providing enjoyment & leisure whilst outdoors. Now market chain giants in the US such as Amazon & Walmart have opted in to use this piece of technology for their day to day operations in delivery services.
Amazon & Walmart in the US are the biggest market chains to exist hence it’s no surprise expanding their normal delivery services to drone delivery services to make it more efficient as well as cost-effective. However, is it that easy? What is the legality of such a system?
All Clear To Fly, Approval from The FAA
Amazon, on August 21st, has received approval from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regarding its drone delivery services being introduced. For Amazon, this marks a massive milestone as it leads to the chain’s marketing innovation. This approval gives Amazon the privilege to “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers”, as stated by the Federal Aviation Administration agency.
Amazon in response to the approval has stated that “it will use the FAA’s certification to begin testing customer deliveries “. The Federal Aviation Administration must see safe detailed evidence that operations are completed to the utmost ability with rigorous training procedures to be taking place. The drones Amazon intends to use are their own inhouse built Amazon Prime Air drones developed in their facilities.
The most amazing part of this drone is not the drone itself but rather the software implementation done to recognize pathways, routes & much more. It is rather a real impressive software design. Amazon stated it will fly 16km or 10 miles from their warehouse’s location following the Federal Aviation Administration regulations. This approval has added a competitive advantage to Amazon against other retailers such as Walmart as they develop their in-house drones, which can be cost-effective in the future once drone delivery services are the norm.
They also have the option in the future to scale their operations whereas Walmart may not get the same advantage as they do not develop their in-house drone services.
Walmart’s Reply To Amazon
Walmart is no stranger to the US, being one of the largest market chains to exist. It is said to expect an ongoing battle between Amazon & Walmart as Walmart teams up with Zipline to provide drone delivery services to their customers also. Not only the drones but Walmart intends to extend its services & provide a service like Prime from Amazon for the same pricing to become more competitive.
Walmart has accelerated the deployment of their drone service due to the Covid-19 pandemic to provide its clients & customers with the drone man-less deliveries.
Using Zipline, the company that supplied medical supplies to Ghana & Rwanda during the crisis, is set to make the biggest deal of the year. Tom Ward, Walmart’s CEO stated, “We’ll never stop looking into & learning about what the next best technology is & how we can use it to better serve our customers now & into the future”.
Zipline got FAA approval back in May to use drones for services which now allows Walmart to start sending packages with personalized service. Zipline’s drones also feature a well-built software design implemented to the operations of the drone.
Walmart released a statement on how far the drones will be able to service saying “Zipline will operate from a Walmart store and can service a 50-mile radius, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut”. Partnering up with Zipline for Walmart was a competitive edge against Amazon as they will require to do less research as Zipline is a specialized drone delivery service company that has all the certifications, training & equipment to carry out the service.
What Does This Mean For Consumers?
The ultimate question, what does this mean or do for the customers? Well, drone services are not just a publicity stunt. Due to their complex design & state of the art software design, drones serve a big purpose in logistics. For all online retailers using drone delivery services, it means the package can be delivered easier, faster and usually for a much cheaper fee to the costumer, but these are not the only advantages.
Due to the efficiency of drones, it often means retailers can reduce their carbon footprint so an environmental conscient consumer can rest their mind knowing they did not pollute nearly as much as conventional transport methods do whilst receiving their products. It also means that consumers can receive their products much more accurately with fewer mistakes being made during delivery as well as receiving the products much quicker than before.
Are there any downsides? Well like anything there are a few to mention such as:
- Weight & distance limitations, drones cannot currently operate with heavy loads or far distances however, this can be developed in the future.
- Growing delivery service can in the future become a consumer rights issue with speculation that drones “may” be stolen or the packages can be misplaced.
- Local stores (physical stores) will be severely impacted if they do not use the technology either.
It is no wonder large retail giants such as Amazon & Walmart opted to use the innovative emerging technology of drones. Not only they will win much more market share but in fact, will dominate the retail market. To stay competitive, both Amazon & Walmart must do all they can against each other as they are the largest oppositions in the retail segment.
As a final note, it is great to see retail chains opting in for the latest technology to help deliver products more efficiently to the customer. Who wins from all this competition? The consumer.
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