There was a time when 'drone' was merely an insult levelled at commuters by members of the counterculture who didn't want to do any work. It was a more innocent age where, if you were a 'drone', you got paid actual cash in an envelope every Thursday and advertisers could still imply that smoking made you more attractive (apologies to young people - I know, what were we thinking?).
In our present age, drones are unmanned flying robots used for surveillance, search and rescue, traffic monitoring and aerial photography. If our major supermarkets are genuinely hoping to employ them, they will also soon be used to drop off our online food shopping.
This article from The Grocer leads with the technologically exciting news that future deliveries of beetroot fondue - curly kale - almond milk / stuffed crust pizzas - chicken nuggets - continental lager (delete depending on your personal pandemic coping mechanism) may be accompanied by a bigger buzz than usual...
Beneath the headlines, though, are some details of new retailer approaches that are more realistic, more immediate and a more obvious indicator of the sea-change in our purchasing habits.
Tesco plans to use spare space in 25 existing stores to service the growth in online delivery requests. This will replace some 'dark' store warehouse operations with a live product picking operation, viewable by regular shoppers.
Additionally, Morrisons has extended its food-to-go operation and plans to use space specifically for working with fast-food delivery providers, showing that use of excess space, cost-efficiency and service provision are being driven by online consumer demand.
So, the real story may be the adaption of old spaces for a new consumer in the retail world. However, it is the idea of little flying sat-navs, bringing our food staples, that will live in the memory and, before too long, will surely become reality. I hope the parachute works or that single cream I ordered is going to make a heck of a mess...
Gimmick or not, Tesco’s drone trial shows supermarkets are looking to get delivery right