Will drones make Walmart’s DCs hum?
It’s unusual, but this is one of the few times when the use of drones in retail is being seen in a media report that doesn’t focus on Amazon.com. No, according to reports, it’s none other than Walmart that plans to test the use of drones in distribution centers to help deliver real-time inventory data to employees and move products around and out of facilities in the fastest, most efficient means possible.
In the test, which will start somewhere in the next six to nine months, Walmart will use proprietary tech to enable camera-equipped drones to speed up counting and keep track of inventory.
The company maintains that a drone can accomplish in a single day what it would take humans a month to do. If the drones work as advertised, they could save Walmart millions of dollars that could be used to the retailer’s advantage. The company currently operates around 190 distribution centers around the U.S.
In an interview with Reuters, Shekar Natarajan, Walmart’s vice president of last mile and emerging sciences, said the drone test is just a beginning for the retailer.
“We are still in early phases of testing and understanding how drones can be better used in different types of business functions,” he said.
- Wal-Mart says it is 6-9 months from using drones to check warehouse inventory – Reuters
- How Wal-Mart will keep slashing its prices: Drones – CNBC
- Walmart trials stock-checking drones in its warehouses – Engadget
- A Behind the Scenes Look at How Walmart Delivers – Walmart Stores, Inc.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to Walmart’s test of drones to assist in the management and movement of inventory in the company’s warehouses? What other uses do you see for drones in DCs? Do you think drone technology holds more potential for use in distribution centers or for delivering goods to consumers?