- Walmart is investing in drones as the delivery war against Amazon in the US heats up.
- According to The Financial Times, the Arkansas-based chain is on track to file more drone patents than Amazon for the second year running.
- The two retailers have been going head-to-head to offer cheap and speedy shipping in recent weeks.
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Walmart is betting on drones as the delivery wars in the US heat up.
According to The Financial Times, the Arkansas-based chain is on track to file more drone patents than Amazon for the second year running.
It has filed 97 new drone patents with the World Intellectual Property Organisation since July 2018. According to research by accounting firm BDO, in the same period, Amazon registered 54 product ideas.
Walmart’s interest in drones comes as the two retailers go head-to-head to offer low-cost and speedy delivery for customers shopping online.
Amazon still has a tight grip of the e-commerce market in the US and its growth in this market is far outpacing the rest of retail; according to an estimate by eMarketer, nearly 40% of the nation’s online sales will be claimed by Amazon this year.
But speedy shipping is an important way to lure customers and Walmart’s giant network of stores in the US means that it’s in a better position to use drones for quick deliveries.
This is because the range of a drone is fairly small – around 15 miles or so – which means that its launch off point needs to be close to customers. Given that a big share of Walmart’s customers live close to its stores (around 90% of Americans are 15 minutes from a Walmart) there’s clearly room to benefit here.
Despite Amazon’s distribution centres being further from customers, the e-commerce giant is still investing heavily into drone delivery. At its recent Re:Mars conference, an Amazon executive unveiled what looks to be the company’s near-final design for a delivery drone, which it said could start delivering packages within months.
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