OK, but what about in-store drone delivery?
If drone delivery of packages to homes are far from passing the muster of legislators, how about drone delivery to shoppers in stores? A temporary Crocs store in Tokyo this past weekend tested the delivery of purchases to in-store shoppers.
Described by New York’s Daily News as a "life-size shoe vending machine," the "Flying Norlin Project," which was open from Mar. 5 to 8 at Tokyo Midtown, enabled guests to use one of the store’s iPads to first select a color and size of one of the brand’s new Norlin sneakers. Touching the "take off" button prompted a drone to find the shoes from a large aerial display and then deliver them directly to the shopper. Using magnets to pick up the shoes, the custom-built flyers could handle up to 600 grams (21 oz.)
"We believe this is the first store in the world to make use of drones this way," a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.
Conceptual engineering and design teams Birdman and Enjin assisted on the project.
With reports indicating that drones periodically failed to deliver shoes to the right customers, the event was seen more as a marketing event to showcase the lightweight nature of the new shoes as well as to celebrate Crocs’ tenth anniversary in Japan. Crocs doesn’t have any plans to bring drones to its other stores.
"It’s more about the spectacle of the delivery than the product, arguably," wrote Mat Smith on engadget.com.
Using drone fascination to drum up some attention is also apparently behind McDonald’s decision to host three sessions on Mar. 13 at the South By Southwest festival in Austin to encourage young entrepreneurs to "obsolete" door-to-door and drive-through delivery. The fast food chain pitch reads, "Imagine a world where drones could deliver you food while you’re driving down the highway. Seems crazy now, but technology is increasingly revolutionizing our everyday lives."
With drone videos going viral, interest in the technology has gone well beyond tech geeks. According to the Walker Sands 2015 Future of Retail Study, two-thirds of consumers expect to receive their first drone-delivered package in the next five years. Nearly 80 percent are willing to pay for it.
In mid-February, however, Federal Aviation Administration’s updated guidelines arrived that reportedly put any hope of drone deliveries from Amazon, Google and others more than a few years away. The rules require drones to be in sight of the operator, fly only during daylight and away from crowded places.
- Crocs Flying Norlin Project – Crocs Japan
- Drones to Fetch Orders at Tokyo Crocs Store – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Japan: Crocs pop-up shop takes flight with help of helicopter drones delivering shoes – International Business Times
- Crocs ‘midair shoe store’ is staffed by drones – Engadget
- SEE IT: Crocs opens pop-up shoe store in Tokyo staffed by drones – New York Daily News
- McDonald’s Pitch Session: Transportation and Delivery – South By Southwest
- Reinventing Retail: What Businesses Need to Know for 2015 Whitepaper – Walker Sands
- Consumers ready for drones to deliver pizzas, other goods – Investors Business Daily
- Pizza deliveries from drones? Proposed rules would ground them – Chicago Sun Times
Is the near-term value in drones more around marketing or in-store entertainment? In what other ways might stores capitalize on the current fascination over drones?