Aeon Retail, JAL, and KDDI SmartDrone announced on June 2, 2023, that they have signed a tripartite agreement to study social implementation using drones in the retail domain. In accordance with this agreement, the three companies will begin a verification experiment at a store in Shimosuwa-machi, Suwa-gun, Nagano Prefecture, Japan,which is scheduled to open in 2025.
Against the backdrop of a declining population and the 2024 logistics problem, a different approach is required for sustainable store operations in the region, such as delivery through new channels.
To address these issues, the three companies are utilizing drones and digital technology. The goal is to create a new last mile, optimize and streamline the process from product procurement to delivery to consumers, and realize a new shopping experience.
Local stores will also serve as centers for disaster response, providing evacuation shelters and transporting goods to disaster-stricken areas. Therefore, the three companies, in close cooperation with the local government, are considering the use of drones to create a detailed transportation system for areas that would be difficult to reach by conventional means.