Walmart has put in an application that describes how the retail giant would build a warehouse located up in the air to allow deliveries to be made to households via drones. Reports indicate that the patent was initially submitted earlier this year in February.
In the patent application the flying warehouse is expected to fly to a height of 1,000 feet while being operated either by a human pilot remotely or autonomously. If the idea comes to fruition the floating warehouse would allow the giant retailer to get over challenges that plague the e-commerce sector such as the highly variable demand.
“The core challenge of traffic and driving distance in any major city or in a very rural location can be helped by a floating warehouse. Movable warehouses are a really nice idea…,” said a Sanford C. Bernstein analyst, Brandon Fletcher.
Wider distribution area
According to Fletcher a movable floating warehouse would widen the geographical area that Walmart is able to serve in contrast to a fixed warehouse where orders can only be filled if they are from within a certain distance. The patent application hints that the floating warehouse would be moving from one location to another and release drones designated to deliver specific packages before being restocked.
Amazon was also granted a similar patent for a flying warehouse in 2016, an indication that the two retail firms are increasingly encroaching on each other’s turfs. While Walmart is making its presence felt in e-commerce, Amazon is also making a play for real estate having announced that i plans to acquire grocery retail chain Whole Foods. The Seattle, Washington-based online retail giant recently issued a bond whose proceeds are expected to finance the acquisition.
Dash buttons patent
This is not the first time that Walmart is filing for a patent that is similar to Amazon’s patents or products. Last year in October the largest brick and mortar retailer in the world put in a patent application for technology meant to develop a product that is similar to Amazon’s Dash buttons – the device that is used to automatically reorder everyday household consumables in one click.
Walmart’s efforts in e-commerce are paying off as the Q2 earnings report revealed that online sales had increased by 60%. This comes on the back of the retailer’s acquisition of Jet.com last year in September and tapping the founder of the e-commerce portal to head its digital sales division.