Drone delivery continues to move toward becoming a reality for retailers and consumers in the U.S.
The first ever store-to-consumer drone delivery was just achieved by the largest convenience retailer in the world.
Retail chain 7-Eleven, in collaboration with drone delivery company Flirtey and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, delivered two packages from a store in Reno, NV to a local customer.
The packages arrived within a few minutes of purchase and included drinks (a Slurpee and hot coffee), a sandwich, donuts and candy, according to 7-Eleven.
Since fully-automated commercial drone delivery is awaiting approval from the FAA, which observers see as likely in years to come, the delivery was specially-designed for this occasion and was executed in Nevada, one of the few states designated as an FAA test site.
The retailer plans to pursue making drone delivery a reality to deliver anything in its stores to customers within minutes.
Convenience for consumers is the main value driving the retailer’s interest in drone delivery, according to Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, EVP and chief merchandising officer at 7-Eleven.
"Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience," said Delgado-Jenkins.
“Our customers have demanding schedules, are on-the-go 24/7 and turn to us to help navigate the challenges of their daily lives.”
Faster delivery times are the driving factor behind consumers when considering drone delivery as well.
The Future of Retail 2016 study, comprising a survey of 1,400 U.S. adults, found that the majority (79%) of consumers would choose drone delivery if it meant receiving a package they order online within an hour, let alone a matter of minutes.
"It's amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes,” said the recipient of the 7-Eleven delivery.
"My wife and I both work and have three small children ages seven, six and one. The convenience of having access to instant, 24/7 drone delivery is priceless.”
There are also drone delivery-related products currently being developed with convenience in mind.
One company focusing on that, as well as the high fear of package theft, is currently developing a smart appliance that would receive and secure drone delivery packages and be controlled remotely by a consumer’s smartphone. It has yet to be determined if the app controlling the smart appliance will be open to advertisers or brand partnerships.
The successful store-to-home drone delivery from 7-Eleven is an encouraging sign for the future of drone delivery, according to Flirtey’s CEO Matt Sweeny.“Today is a giant leap toward a not-too-distant future where we are delivering you convenience on demand,” Sweeny said