Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) could learn a few things from 7-11.
Even as the Seattle company celebrated its first delivery from Prime Air, its drone delivery unit, last week, convenience store behemoth 7-11 announced that it had already conducted 77 deliveries using drones in Reno, Nevada. The chain, which is owned by Japan-based Seven & I Holdings Ltd. (SVNDY), said it had partnered with Flirtey, a Reno-based drone delivery company to make the deliveries and made its first drone delivery in July.
As a number of publications have already pointed out, 7-Eleven’s delivery record is remarkable because it took place in a densely-populated urban area. Amazon made its delivery in rural England. Current FAA regulations that require drones to fly at less than 400 feet and to always remain within an operator’s line of sight make it difficult for drones to fly in such conditions. (See also: Amazon Tests First Drone Delivery).
Flirtey and 7-Eleven seem to have worked around these regulations by ensuring that the deliveries were always within a one mile radius. “There was a Flirtey operator in the loop to take over if ever needed, but it wasn’t necessary,” said Matthew Sweeney, Flirtey CEO. The project also used a specially designed shopping app that tracked the order from preparation to delivery. Sweeney said orders, which consisted of food, beverages and over-the-counter medicines, took less than 10 minutes on average. (See also: 3 Ways That Drones Will Change Business).
Amazon announced last week that it had made its first drone delivery in rural England. The Seattle company is taking it slow with its drone ambitions and has said that it will expand the experiment to “dozens of customers” in the coming weeks. Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google (GOOG) also used drones to deliver a burrito to the University of Virginia campus.