Walgreens wants to take convenience to another level, literally

Walgreens will test its new drone delivery in Christiansburg, Va.

Walgreens is aiming for the sky to offer improved product delivery.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain announced on Thursday it is partnering with Wing Aviation LLC to “offer unparalleled speed and convenience of store-to-door delivery of health and wellness, food and beverage and convenience items — via state-of-the-art drone technology — in minutes.” Walgreens will begin offering the service to eligible residents of Christiansburg, Va., beginning next month as part of a pilot program.

Wing Aviation LLC is the first drone operator to be certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration. The company is part of the Alphabet family of companies, which includes Google.

The companies will utilize the pilot program to further explore the future of health and wellness product and retail delivery through the air, offering product availability and home delivery minutes after placing orders via the Wing app.

“Walgreens continues to explore partnerships to transform and modernize our customer experience and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing,” said Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer of the Walgreens Boots Alliance. “With a customer-led focus, we continue to create differentiated shopping experiences that provide the products and services consumers need wherever, whenever and however they may want them. This is the kind of omnichannel partnership and offering that can redefine convenience for our customers and communities — delivering items to homes in minutes, not hours or days.”

Christiansburg was selected as the test market as Wing has been working closely with nearby Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016. If and when the program should expand, Walgreens said it is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery because about 78% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store. Walgreens operates about 9,560 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states.

In the Christiansburg area, a town of more than 20,000 residents, eligible customers will have access to more than 100 products and six convenient “packs” via the Wing app that include many of Walgreens most popular in-store products. Customers can either choose the individual products they need or one of the pre-built packs in the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks. Prescription deliveries are not available. Walgreens and Wing didn’t provide any information about the cost of home delivery by drone.