7-Eleven teams up with Meituan to trial drone delivery

On 3 April, global convenience store chain 7-Eleven announced that it has partnered with Chinese food delivery platform Meituan to trial drone delivery in Shenzhen, Guangdong. This is the first time the Japanese-owned Texas-based convenience store giant has introduced drone delivery in China. Customers in the Longgang COCO Park business area can now order their 7-Eleven orders to be delivered by drone.

The drone delivery covers 7-Eleven’s over 3,000 types of merchandise and there are nearly 100 fresh foods among them. Meituan shares that the fastest delivery can arrive 4 minutes after packing. Customer feedback from the trial indicates that the new delivery method shortens waiting time by 10 minutes. As 7-Eleven operates over 1,700 shops in 13 cities in Guangdong, more stores will introduce drone delivery, including ones in tourist attractions and university campuses.

As the competition in the local life services sector gets heated, demand for faster “instant delivery” has also risen. By the end of 2023, Meituan’s drone department had already launched 25 shipping routes in 11 business areas in cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen, completing over 220,000 orders. Destinations include offices, tourist attractions, hospitals and campuses. On 19 March, KFC also announced 3 drone delivery routes in Shenzhen, in partnership with Meituan.

Recently, the authorities have recognised the potential of the “low-altitude economy” which covers civilian and industrial drones operating in sub-1,000 metre airspace. The delivery drone is one of the earliest and most prevalent forms of commercial use in the “low-altitude economy”.  7-Eleven has previously trialled the service in the US and Japan but with Meituan’s experience in the sector, this trial can potentially be more ready for mass application.


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