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UPS expands drone delivery programme, seeks ecommerce platform partnerships


UPS is expanding its drone delivery programme in the US and announced it is working with ecommerce platforms to offer discounted shipping..
The Flight Forward programme has signed new customers including the University of Utah Health, drug store CVS Health, healthcare solutions provider AmerisourceBergen and healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente.

All the applications include delivery of medical products, either to medical professionals or in the case of CVS Health, to consumers.

The trials build on UPS’s operational drone programme with Matternet at WakeMed Hospital in North Carolina. In July, UPS said it was introducing the Flight Forward subsidiary to quickly apply for certification to fly drones.

UPS chief strategy and transformation officer Scott Price said: “When we launched UPS Flight Forward, we said we would move quickly to scale this business – now the country’s first and only fully-certified drone airline – and that’s exactly what we are doing.

“We started with a hospital campus environment and are now expanding scale and use-cases. UPS Flight Forward will work with new customers in other industries to design additional solutions for a wide array of last-mile and urgent delivery challenges.”

The shipping giant also announced the launch of the UPS Digital Access Program, which sees it working with ecommerce solution providers. It is working with to offer discounted shipping rates to the latter’s 740,000 ecommerce customers.

UPS Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Warren said: “UPS has extensive experience and sophisticated knowledge of the needs of shippers and platform players operating within the e-commerce ecosystem.

“As the ecommerce shipper of choice, we are putting that experience to work to help our customers do more, with greater ease, across every aspect of the ecommerce value stream.”

UPS has also introduced UPS Premier, a service which uses connected sensors to support shipping time-and-temperature sensitive packages. The company is also introducing the UPS Economy service, which offers affordable shipping outside of the European Union, to Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The new announcements come after UPS announced its Q3 results, which saw revenues rise 5% to $18.3 billion.

UPS chairman and CEO David Abney said: “UPS is moving quickly to introduce a wide range of innovative new services designed to extend our leadership position in developing technology solutions to help ecommerce and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

“We see enormous opportunities and unmet customer needs in several high-growth market segments.”

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