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Customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area will be among the first to see drone delivery in the Walmart app.

Walmart continues to compete with Amazon for sales, as well as the skies, rolling out app-enabled drone delivery. As the retailer continues to test drone delivery, some customers will be able to access the technology directly through the Walmart app.

Starting in June, customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex will begin to be notified of the new ordering capability, according to a release from Walmart. Customers will receive notifications through the Walmart app if they are eligible based on their address. The app integration will be done in phases as more drone delivery sites ramp up and drone providers receive additional regulatory approvals to fly more goods across greater distances.

Walmart has been engaged in an increasingly competitive technology arms race with rival Amazon, as well as others, such as Target and Costco in the Mass Merchant category of the Top 1000. This year, Amazon is expanding drone service in Arizona after wrapping experiments with it in California.

Walmart ranks No. 2 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000. The Top 1000 is a database ranking North America’s leading retailers by online sales.

Walmart’s drone delivery expansion

A spokesperson for Walmart told Digital Commerce 360 that the drones are exciting for everyone, including the customers.

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“ Our drone pilot programs have been exciting for both Walmart and our customers,” the spokesperson said. “ The communities have been very receptive to adopting drone deliveries, and we’re confident that enthusiasm will continue as we expand.”

The spokesperson told Digital Commerce 360 that there are now thousands of items that qualify for drone delivery.

“ There are thousands of items that qualify for delivery including last-minute meal solutions, groceries, household supplies, general merchandise like video games and OTC medicines,” the spokesperson said.

Delivering late-night munchies by drone is part of a larger strategy that Walmart is executing, according to industry insiders. Walmart is trying to get ahead of competitors even if it means tinkering as the program unfolds.

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Drone delivery’s significance for Walmart

“Their strategy is to build a ‘Unified Commerce’ ecosystem that integrates online, offline, technology, supply chain, and media for 360 consumer engagement and experience,” said Michael Zacour, founder and chief strategist at 5 New Digital.

This phase of the program is all about working out the kinks, according to Zacour.

“The drone program is still in the experimental, test-and-learn phase,” Zacour explained. “Whether Walmart customers or other consumers in general will embrace the service at scale remains to be seen. The key is that Walmart is not waiting to see what happens with other retailers and brands and then play catch-up.”

The drone-via-app experiment is in line with other aggressive moves into digital that Walmart has been rolling out, including AI-assisted shopping in the app which is intended to provide the customer with a more seamless shopping experience.

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“The drone experiment is part of the bigger move into digital commerce (end-to-end use of digital technologies across the enterprise). We can see this in the company’s other recent tech deployments,” Zacour says.

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