United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) said it will add 12,000 new package pickup locations inside CVS, Michaels and Advance Auto Parts stores beginning Jan. 1. The move is in response to the growth in online shopping and pressures for faster delivery and reduced costs.
The new locations will give the Atlanta-based transport company 21,000 pickup points in the U.S. Globally, the company will have 40,000. Also in January, the company will offer pickup and delivery services seven days a week. The company’s main competitor for delivery of online orders is the U.S. Post Office, which does make deliveries on Sunday.
UPS also said it plans to establish a subsidiary unit that will focus on expanding drone delivery operations. That is now limited to transporting medical samples at a group of hospitals in Raleigh, N.C.
UPS has filed for certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward. The certification would allow UPS to fly drones beyond line of sight, at night and with an unlimited number of drones and operators in command, the company said.
In the drone delivery race, Amazon and Google are also making headway. Google announced in April its Wing Aviation affiliate obtained federal approval to make commercial deliveries by drone. Wing will begin operation with flights in Virginia later this year. Google is the first to get FAA approval for making commercial deliveries by drone in the U.S.
In June, Amazon unveiled its latest version of the Prime Air delivery drone. The hybrid aircraft is capable of vertical takeoff and landing as well as sustained forward flight.
Amazon said it wants to launch a delivery service using the drone in “the coming months,” but has not said where that might take place or how many customers it might cover.
Amazon said its goal for the finished Prime Air service is to create “fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.” Amazon said between 70% and 90% of items purchased online are under that weight limit.
Amazon is still awaiting FAA approval on the new design.