Drone delivery service Wing today swoops in to further disrupt the traditional shopping centre model and greet an even broader scope of customers, via a new agreement with Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX) as part of a world-first for the Google-owned brand.
As part of the partnership, goods will be delivered to homes and businesses from the rooftop of Grand Central Plaza in Logan as the service officially takes flight today following a pilot program that began in mid-August.
Vicinity Centres chief innovation and information officer Justin Mills is optimistic the partnership with Wing will herald in a new kind of customer who would otherwise be averse to busy supermarket environments.
With the introduction of TerryWhite pharmacies into the mix, there will be more immediate access to pharmaceuticals, personal care, general health, and beauty products for the residents of Logan.
“The retail industry is changing, and Vicinity is employing a test and learn approach in areas critical to the role of Australian shopping centres in the future,” says Mills.
“We believe the partnership with Wing will be an important component of our overall distribution and fulfilment strategy and support our new growth strategy.
“Our partnership with Wing is a natural extension of our distribution and fulfilment strategy which will help retailers use physical stores and our shopping centre network to get their products in customer hands quicker and more efficiently.”
The trial in Logan is paving the way for what could soon be the dominant global model for local deliveries, saving customers time and money in the process. According to AlphaBeta, last-mile delivery is one of the most costly segments of the supply chain, accounting for 15 to 20 per cent of the total cost of retail transactions in the form of delivery fees or the time spent by consumers picking up their goods.
It’s estimated that by 2030 if drones could deliver 4 to 6 per cent of household purchases, it could grow retail sales in Australia by $2.2 billion.
Since 2019, Wing’s services have become a staple of life in Logan, with residents on average having received a drone delivery “nearly once every 30 seconds during our service hours”.
Its implementation also shows promise for sustainable modes of delivery, with hopes that Wing will create a precedent for “reducing the carbon imprint”, says Mills.
Wing head of policy & community affairs Jesse Suskin says the company is confident it can relieve the stress upon supply systems by cutting out the middle man when necessary, thus optimising omnichannel retail.
“For the first time, we are co-locating our drones with businesses at their premises, rather than local businesses having to co-locate their goods with us at our delivery facility,” says Suskin.
“On-demand drone delivery can help address the costly last-mile delivery challenge, reduce road congestion and emissions, and create new economic opportunities for businesses by utilising their existing retail space as logistics hubs and fulfilment centres.”
Discerning customers can expand the choice of options usually available, given that outlets like Chatime, Boost Juice and Sushi Hub have hopped on board for the new initiative.
Alphabet’s squad of drones have made around 100,000 deliveries since Wing's arrival in Logan in 2019, more than anywhere else in the world, earning the town the title of “drone capital of the world”.
Though an unlikely location to implement such a ground-breaking service, the appeal was made all the sweeter by the launch of the Queensland Government drone strategy in 2018, borne from ambitions to make the state a world leader in drone technology.
Outside of Logan within Australia, the delivery service is currently only available in Canberra.
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