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July 18, 2023

Integrating Drone Delivery into Your Supply Chain

  • , Drone delivery
  • , Education
  • , Partners


Drone delivery has been making headlines in recent years as a promising last mile delivery solution. With its ability to deliver small packages quickly and efficiently without traffic congestion and other sources of friction that inhibit ground delivery methods, drone delivery can revolutionize the way businesses operate.

Wing has completed over 350,000 deliveries directly to homes and businesses, approaching as many as 1,000 deliveries in a region, in a single day. More companies are considering integrating drone delivery into their supply chains; typically, but not exclusively, for last mile delivery. Use cases range from retailers seeking fast delivery options directly to customers, to hospitals moving lab samples between locations in minutes. Drone delivery technology is rapidly maturing, and it can lower cost and increase delivery efficiency in a growing range of supply chain applications. 

Wing’s drone delivery service provides solutions for delivery management––taking goods from distribution centers, restaurants, retailers, hospitals, and labs, to their final destination. The goal is to integrate with existing methods of partner delivery and to work seamlessly with logistics platforms. 

When engaging with partners, there tends to be a lot of questions around the nuts and bolts of integrating. Here are the five steps to implement Wing drone delivery into your supply chain:

Step 1: Plan the integration

Wing initiates engagements by working closely with each partner to design an integration plan that is tailored to their specific needs and requirements. Wing has a dedicated technical team with extensive experience in delivery app development and API integration that will collaborate on an integration design to reduce the burden on a partner’s engineering team. They’ll help partners decide which API methods will be called from our delivery platform throughout the fulfillment process and understand what data is needed to properly integrate. For example, Wing partnered with a global food delivery provider to integrate Wing’s drone delivery as an option in the company’s delivery app. We worked with the company's developer team and provided an API to integrate the end-to-end flow of orders. Together we analyzed their delivery orders per day, and how many of those Wing could deliver for them based on factors such as payload, size, and delivery range.

Step 2: Technical integration

Wing offers more options based on partner goals. The Wing Delivery Platform provides an API and a set of UIs that enable partners to seamlessly integrate drone delivery into their business, and these tools are designed to be modular; the integration design can be tailored based on the partner’s desired user experience and system flows. These can include API calls to assess drone delivery availability for a certain address, to request a delivery, or to provide real-time tracking of your package. 

In addition to the API, you can also elect to leverage specific features of Wing’s existing Web applications, such as our delivery tracking page. Wing offers real-time tracking functionality that indicates to partners and users the exact time packages the exact time packages will be delivered, down to the minute, to the minute. A benefit users find extremely valuable–because Wing drones don’t contend with street traffic (see image below).

Step 3: Operational integration

Working in parallel to the technical integration is the operational integration – getting the physical sites ready for launch. In Dallas-Fort Worth, Wing’s fleet is securely located at a retailer’s store back parking lot and is assigned to fulfill their orders. Wing and the retailer collaborated in building an optimal workflow for both the retailer’s store staff, management, and real estate.

While this is one example of Wing’s “store-to-door” co-location option, Wing's fleet size and the space needed to operate is flexible and can scale up and down based on our partner’s needs. Wing will provide a set of guidelines when it comes to infrastructure and layout requirements including space and power. 

Wing will also manage additional operational requirements, which may include permitting, making sure the facilities receive the necessary hardware, and setting up the drone delivery hubs for launch. 

Step 4: Staff training & test runs 

Our delivery service is highly automated and simple to deploy, enabling your employees to be quickly and easily trained to use the service. Integration doesn’t always mean making big changes! In general, small adjustments to your workflows can have a big impact on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain. For example, we’ve integrated with a multinational grocery store chain in Australia, training their staff on loading packages.

Once the site and integration is prepared and staff are trained, we’ll want to go through operational testing. During this process, we can create test delivery zones and orders – to ensure drone delivery is properly embedded into operating procedures and existing workflows before launching.

Step 5: Launching service

A pilot program can help assess how drone delivery is impacting your business and ensure that the transition to drone delivery is smooth. This may include selecting a small number of delivery routes, monitoring performance metrics, collecting feedback from your customers and employees, and making adjustments. Once drone delivery has been fully implemented, it’s important to continue to optimize the supply chain to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Once processes are optimized, it’s time to plan a roadmap to expand to more locations!

For example, we’ve partnered with multiple retail property groups to pilot drone delivery from the rooftops of shopping centers and parking lots. Together with a global food delivery provider, we’re delivering food from five restaurants within the mall and are continuing to expand the offering with more retailers and malls.

Wing can help businesses become more efficient, more sustainable, and meet the changing needs of their customers. Contact to learn more.