It is a true clash of the titans, with retail mega-chain Walmart (WMT - Get Report) going head-to-head with e-commerce behemoth Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , the companies duking it out to become the country's largest retailer and investors waiting to profit.
As more Americans shop online, Amazon is growing at an overwhelming pace. The company is set to overtake department stalwart Macy's in apparel sales by the end of next year.
Remember when shopping for clothing online seemed like an impossible task? With Amazon Prime's quick delivery window and easy return policy, it is becoming the norm.
But though other brick-and-mortar retailers, such as under-performing Sears are quaking in their boots, Walmart is leading the charge against Amazon. In fact, the company is beginning to reinvent itself as an e-commerce giant in its own right, and that is pushing the stock up.
Walmart is investing upward of $2 billion to improve its online shopping platform, and the company said that this will include an initiative to improve its supply chain using warehouse drones.
Amazon has captured headlines over the years with its hefty investments into exploring drone delivery technology. But there are numerous questions that follow up the proposition.
They include, will the Federal Aviation Administration allow the company to fly autonomous aircraft in dense urban areas? Will delivery drones affect public safety? And what would the insurance for such a fleet cost?
However, Walmart appears to be taking the sensible route when it comes to integrating drone technology into its business operations. For one thing, the company plans to use only remote-controlled flyers, rather than self-autonomous.
The first application for drone technology will be in taking inventory.
It takes Walmart warehouse workers about one month to check what goods need to be restocked, according to Reuters.
Using a frame rate of 30 per second, drone-mounted cameras will be able to accomplish this in a fraction of the time.
As Walmart takes on rival Amazon, it is attempting to undercut the massive online retailer at every step.
This drone program is much more sensible than what Amazon plans, for example.
But it is also trying to win customer loyalty with services such as ShippingPass, a membership-based program that promises two-day delivery, along the lines of Amazon Prime. However, ShippingPass costs $50 per year, half of what Amazon is charging.
Walmart is also teaming up with both Lyft and Uber ride-hiring services to offer same-day delivery in select test markets. That is in addition to the company's massive fleet of transportation vehicles, one of the largest in the United States.
It is too early to say whether Amazon or Walmart will capture the lion's share of customer dollars, but this is an exciting race that will net investors big profits.
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