A small competitor to Wing, Zipline posted huge 2022 user growth

Flytrex is still a relatively small competitor in the drone delivery space, but it posted impressive 2022 user growth.

The Tel Aviv, Israel-based drone company this week released its “2022 HighFlights” report, given the public a glimpse into its achievements and progress over the past year.

Most of the highlights — erm, highflights — in the report are pretty goofy. Flytrex called out its top-most delivered items (from restaurants it’s french fries and from grocery stores it’s bananas) which doesn’t say much of anything at all. After all, those feel like pretty common foods one might consume anyway.

But then there are a few stats around 2022 user growth that better indicate how Flytrex compares against other big drone delivery players like Wing (the sibling to Google) and Zipline, which is generally considered to be the largest drone delivery company in the world.

The company said it reached more than 4,000 users in 2022, which is a 765% increase.

How Flytrex’s 2022 user growth compares against other drone delivery companies

According to German-based drone industry analysis company Drone Industry Insights, which last ranked the top companies for drone delivery services in fall 2022 Flytrex is considered the fifth-largest drone delivery company in the world. DII’s ranking considered metrics including size of staff, company growth and public attention.

The top five largest drone delivery companies in the world (from largest to smallest) are:

  1. Zipline
  2. Wing
  3. Matternet
  4. Manna
  5. FlyTrex

And so while Flytrex reportedly served more than 4,000 users in 2022, that’s still small potatoes against the big players. Zipline has completed more than 500,000 real (not test) drone deliveries, and it estimates that it will complete about 1 million deliveries by the end of 2023.

And Wing, the sister company of Google has claimed to have delivered more than 1,000 packages in a single day.

In early 2023, Flytrex became the fifth company in the world approved to conduct drone deliveries under a Standard Part 135 Air Carrier Certification from the FAA.  It says it’s anticipating thousands more 2023 drone deliveries. Flytrex intentionally uses that to differentiate itself from other drone delivery companies, touting itself as the “largest backyard drone delivery service in the U.S.”

It’s been delivering menu items from Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy in Granbury, Texas. It’s shipped Charleys Philly Steaks via drone around Durham, North Carolina. And Flytrex temporarily partnered with ice cream giant Unilever (the company behind brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Klondike, Magnum ice cream, and Popsicle) to run deliveries for 2022’s National Ice Cream Day.

How often are people using Flytrex drone delivery?

Flytrex’s 2022 report also shed some insight into its users — and most deliveries are to repeat customers. While Flytrex reported just over 4,000 users, it also shared that it executed 21,350 orders that year.

What’s also interesting from Flytrex’s 2022 user growth data is the proof that drones are carrying more than one item. The company reported that it delivered more than 85,000 items. But considering it served 21,350 orders, that averages out to about four items in one order and suggests that people aren’t simply ordering one banana. They might be ordering a full ingredient list.

21,350 orders across 4,000 users averages out to just over 5 orders per year, per customer, indicating that many users are quasi-relying on drone delivery, rather than viewing it as a one-off novelty.

Of course, that’s just an average, and some customers can really skew it. In fact, Flytrex reported that one customer placed 532 total orders within a year. That’s more than one a day. Another customer used drone delivery to fuel their caffeine addiction, reportedly making 81 drone coffee delivery orders within one year.

Graphic courtesy of Flytrex

Flytrex drone delivery: how cost and speed factor in

It’s worth noting that, for now, most Flytrex drone deliveries are available to customers for free.

Considering most other food delivery apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash charge hefty delivery fees that are often coupled with service fees, miscellaneous fees, mandatory-ish tips and sometimes eve a markup on the food price itself, it makes sense to opt for Flytrex deliveries. Sure, the person making 532 orders in a year likely had to pay for the items itself, but it’s hard to be deterred by ordering from a drone — if the drone will do it for free.

IMG 7457

And while Flytrex often does, not all drone delivery companies are willing to work for free. Walmart drone deliveries, which are made through a company called DroneUp, are offered at a fixed delivery fee of $3.99.

It’ll be interesting to see if the person still wants to make 532 orders in a year if they have to pay for them. A 2022 survey from Propeller Insights sought to find out how much Americans would actually be willing to pay for food delivery.

Not even half of Americans — 48% to be exact — said they would be willing to pay more money for drone delivery versus the cost to have it delivered via more traditional means. And even the majority of those who said they would pay more still added a major caveat: drone delivery needed to be able to get products to them within an hour.

Flytrex’s 2022 Highflights report revealed that its average drone delivery time was just 3 minutes and 32 seconds, but that doesn’t account for the food preparation time. Sure, your Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wings only spend a few minutes in the air, but the restaurant still needs time to prepare and package the food (hence, the estimated 40-50 minute delivery time in the example above).

“When people have the ‘3 minutes delivery time’ in their mind, they often forget that this does not include the time needed for the restaurant or shop to prepare the meal and for the meal to then be loaded to the drone,” Liang Feng, a delivery operator for drone company Manna told the Drone Girl in a spring 2022 interview. “We do a lot of customer education and engagement to bridge this gap.”

Flytrex reported that its fastest total delivery time, from order to delivery, was actually 12 minutes and 13 seconds.

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