Drone delivery service Wing has teamed up with supermarket giant Coles to offer more than 250 grocery items in a milestone pilot program starting today (2 March).
The open-ended pilot will offer Wing customers in Canberra access to a selected range of items, including bread, fresh produce, snacks, convenience meals, health care items and kitchen essentials.
Wing is also expanding its delivery services to residents and local businesses to the Belconnen suburbs of Kaleen and Giralang and the Gungahlin suburbs of Crace, Franklin, Harrison, Mitchell and Palmerston.
The pilot and expansion out of its Gungahlin territory are significant milestones for the Alphabet subsidiary (also Google’s parent company), which has been operating officially in Canberra’s north since 2019.
The Wing operation, which has no delivery fees, is essentially an investment in the future and is focused on small incremental growth, but the COVID-19 lockdowns have brought new impetus to the potential of drone delivery services.
General manager, Wing, Australia, Simon Rossi, said the company was excited to be teaming up with Coles to offer drone delivery.
“Coles is the first major Australian supermarket to take to the skies, delivering packages by drone, so we couldn’t be more excited,” he said.
Mr Rossi said the companies had been talking to each other for the past two years about a partnership and the timing was now right to put a pilot together.
“We’ve been in Australia for numerous years now and looking for partners. Coles also has shown a lot of innovation in the delivery space over the last couple of years, and I think the combination of the growth of e-commerce, perhaps with some of the COVID challenges we had, has brought us together,” Mr Rossi said.
He said the Coles items would be stored at and delivered from its Mitchell warehouse.
Although Wing had had a bumpy start in Canberra when Tuggeranong residents blasted its drone trials over noise and privacy concerns, leading to a Legislative Assembly inquiry, Mr Rossi said community feedback indicated that drone delivery was becoming integrated into the lives of Australians.
He said the numbers speak for themselves.
“In the last year, we’ve seen a significant increase in use of our on-demand drone delivery service, with many customers finding the service especially useful as they stayed home and relied on our contactless delivery service to deliver the items they needed,” he said.
“Wing made more than 100,000 deliveries in Australia [in Canberra and Logan City] in 2021, and strong demand for drone delivery has continued in 2022. Wing has already made more than 30,000 deliveries in Australia this year.”
Mr Rossi said complaints appeared to have petered out and the customer feedback showed that they see Wing as a valuable service.
“I think in particular there is an area in Giralang where there are no local shops, and having drone delivery to that area we hope won’t replace the need for residents to do their weekly shop, but we hope in some small way it’ll make things easier for those residents,” he said.
Coles Chief Executive eCommerce Ben Hassing said drone delivery was the next evolution in delivery technology and would support Coles’ ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket by reducing the number of trucks on the road.
“We are passionate about finding innovative ways to help our customers to shop with us, and we aim to deliver anytime, anywhere, anyhow shopping,” Mr Hassing said.
“By partnering with Wing, we’re able to offer our online customers another convenient option to purchase the Coles items they know and love and get them delivered straight to their door.”
Wing operates 8 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and 9 am to 4 pm on Sundays. Customers can place a delivery during this time via the Wing app available to download on the App Store or Google Play.