A new mode of delivering certain drugstore goods is literally ready to take flight in the communities of Frisco and Little Elm, TX, as Walgreens is taking a flyer on drone service from Wing, a subsidiary of Google. There’s no doubt the initiative scores a lot of points as a novelty and on the convenience scale—the company claims items can be delivered within 10 minutes—but there are significant drawbacks. For one thing, only around 100 items (all nonprescription) are eligible for drone delivery. And how many hours of the day will the service be available, given that residents are likely to be intolerant of small aircraft buzzing through the neighborhood at all hours? Then there are questions of whether the service will be available in inclement weather, how misdelivered items will be handled, how the drones will be protected from getting brought down or intercepted by would-be thieves…. Perhaps the most significant question is how this decision will affect the public’s perception of Walgreens. Chain drugstores have pushed hard to be recognized as care facilities where patients can show up and get a vaccination, be tested and receive a prescription for any number of infections, track chronic conditions, and more. Now they seem to be encouraging customers to think of them as the ultimate convenience store—one that encourages you to stay home and have your snacks delivered.

Will Walgreens’ New Drone Delivery Service Crash and Burn on Takeoff?