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Big Australian Supermarket Chain Introduces Drone Delivery Service

Coles taps Google parent company subsidiary Wing for pilot in Canberra
Wing Google Drone Coles Australia Main Image
Australian supermarket chain Coles' drone delivery service enables Canberra customers to order groceries via the Wing app, which dispatches a drone to the delivery location.

Coles has become Australia’s first major supermarket to offer drone delivery. Thanks to a pilot with global on-demand drone delivery service Wing, a subsidiary of Googles parent company, Alphabet, Coles customers in the Australian capital city of Canberra are able to order more than 250 of the grocer’s most popular grocery items, including bread, fresh produce, snacks, convenience meals, health care items, kitchen essentials and even toilet paper, with no minimum spend and no delivery fee. 

To take advantage of the service, customers order via the Wing app and upon arrival, the drone hovers in the air and slowly lowers the package to the ground at the customer’s delivery location for a contactless transfer of goods.

According to Coles Chief Executive E-Commerce Ben Hassing, drone delivery is the next evolution in delivery technology and will support the grocer’s goal of being 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,” noted Hassing. “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.”

Added Simon Rossi, general manager, Wing, Australia: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with Coles, one of Australia’s leading retailers, to expand their delivery options for customers by taking to the skies of Canberra. Whether you’ve run out of milk and eggs for breakfast, forgotten to pick up a loaf of bread for school lunches, or are just after a fresh ‘grab and go’ snack or meal, customers in our delivery service area in Canberra can now get those urgent items they need in a hurry, delivered by drone.”

Rossi went on to note: “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. Wing made more than 100,000 deliveries in Australia 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.”  

Wing’s hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Customers can place deliveries during these hours via the Wing app, which is available to download on the App Store or Google Play.

Coles Online is also aiming to drive growth and customer loyalty through such recent moves as launching Click&Collect Rapid, a 90-minute pickup service, at more than 400 stores across Australia; introducing Coles Plus, a subscription-based service that rewards members while saving them time and money on their weekly shop; and rolling out flypay, which makes checkout even easier by allowing customers to pay for groceries using Flybuys points.

Hawthorn East, Victoria-based Coles operates more than 2,500 retail outlets throughout Australia.

U.S. retailers that have piloted drone deliveries include Walmart, which has also invested in drone company DroneUpThe Kroger Co.; and Alabama independent Greer’s Markets.

Walmart operates approximately 10,500 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 3 on The PG 100.

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