- Convenience retailer 7-Eleven and drone operator Flirtey claim to have made the first Federal Aviation Administration-approved drone delivery to a U.S address earlier this month in Reno, NV.
- The historic delivery on July 10 brought Slurpees, donuts, coffee and a chicken sandwich to a Reno family that had placed the order.
- 7-Eleven has yet to announce a formal drone delivery service option, but has alluded to future plans for such a service as drone regulations become more formalized.
If your first thought when you saw this headline was that you didn't even know 7-Eleven delivered, then join the club. It turns out the convenience store operator does offer delivery through a variety of partners, including Postmates, and seems to have a pretty good idea how delivery in general (and drone delivery in particular) can add great value to a portion of its customer base that is stuck at home for whatever reason.
Now, about this historic FAA-approved drone delivery: It's a pretty cool claim on the books for 7-Eleven, considering we all would have expected Amazon, Wal-Mart or another company on the shortlist of world's largest retailers to have done it.
How much will it mean in the long run that 7-Eleven was first? Maybe not much at all. That the company has yet to announce an actual drone delivery service makes this single, isolated delivery announced after the fact seem like a field trial more than anything else. Our guess is a lot of companies probably have done a lot of similar deliveries in similar scenarios that were labeled as testing, and didn't have the FAA stamp, but that should be viewed as just as significant to the advancement of this new delivery technology.
Also, though 7-Eleven seems excited by the prospects fo drone delivery, how many people are really going to order their Slurpees by drone? And how much will that option set 7-Eleven apart from other convenience retailers? By the way, how much more will it cost?
Drone delivery of products is an interesting concept that many retailers are starting to seriously look at and invest in, but we won't know how significant drone delivery will be in this space until regulations become further clarified, and we see at least a few large-scale drone delivery service launches. Kudos to 7-Eleven, but there's still a long way to go.
Our only other question: Who ordered the chicken sandwich?