Three Ways Drones Can Help Small Businesses

BY Zacc Dukowitz
24 February 2021

Everyone knows that COVID-19 has hit small businesses hard.

And for many the impact will be permanent—according to data from Yelp, of those businesses that had to stop operations due to the pandemic, 60% of them ended up closing for good.

But now that things have stabilized somewhat and businesses are learning how to adapt, there are a few ways that drone service providers can help businesses bring in more customers.

Image source

Here are three ways that drones can help small businesses—the first two are things small businesses can start doing right away.

1) Using Aerial Media to Showcase In-Person Safety Measures

As Sally French of The Drone Girl recently pointed out, aerial photos and videos can help in-person businesses show their customers exactly what they’re doing to keep them safe.

For restaurants, bars, or coffee shops, businesses can use media captured by drone to show the social distancing measures they’ve enacted so that people can get a sense for how safe it will feel to dine there.

And for gyms or other outdoor recreational businesses, drone photos and videos can help showcase the safety measures that have been put in place for workouts.

The idea is to make things concrete for customers. To show them that tables or workout equipment are located six feet apart, for example, or that you have glass partitions in place—really, just highlighting whatever steps have been taken to keep people safe.

In addition to highlighting safety, aerial footage can also be used to showcase customers actively enjoying your services, as a way to both subtly endorse your business and to underscore that there are already people who trust you to keep them safe.

2) Aerial Videos + 3D tours to Support Remote Shopping

Businesses that are struggling from a lack of foot traffic right now can also use drone photos and videos coupled with 3D tours to help sell items virtually that they previously only would have sold in person.

This approach could be especially useful for businesses that have showrooms—any business model that would traditionally rely on customers walking around to look at products, including things like appliances, antiques, or home goods.

Image credit: Dronize

When the pandemic first hit back in March of 2020, the Versailles Showroom in Dallas, Texas hired drone service provider Dronize to try and pivot to virtual sales.

At the time, the move seemed like a long shot. The Versailles Storeroom sells luxury furniture and rugs, and historically people had never purchased something from them without first seeing it in person.

But using a combination of aerial photos showcasing the location of the store and a 3D tour that highlighted the things for sale inside the store, Dronize founder Reza Chegoonian was able to help the store maintain sales.

The crucial factor in driving sales was the creation of a 3D virtual showroom.

By creating a 3D tour of the entire store, Reza provided a way for virtual shoppers to simulate the experience of shopping in person. The virtual showroom allowed people to browse the items for sale at their leisure and recreate a shopping experience that, for many, may also have helped simulate a feeling of normalcy during a strange, uncertain time.

Check out this 3D virtual showroom made for the Versailles Storeroom by Dronize:

3. Drone Delivery of Retail Goods, Healthcare Products, and Food

Drone delivery presents another way that drones can help small businesses.

According to a recent study commissioned by drone delivery company Wing and conducted by Virginia Tech, drone delivery could be a boon for small businesses regardless of the size of the city in which the business is located.

Drone delivery benefits local businesses by increasing their customer reach, improving their response times and increasing their sales, potentially at a lower cost than alternative delivery models.

– Virginia Tech Study

In order to compare different scenarios, the study looked at the impact that drone delivery might have on consumers, local businesses, and communities in three different cities—Austen, TX, Columbus, OH, and Christiansburg, VA (only the last one actually has a drone delivery program).

The study found that all three parties considered—consumers, businesses, and communities—would benefit from drone delivery. Here are the specific findings for local businesses:


These findings seem to be backed up by the actual experience of the Mockingbird Cafe, a local business in Christiansburg, VA whose food can be purchased for drone delivery as part of Wing’s delivery program there.

During the pandemic, the cafe has generated 25% of its revenue from drone delivery according to Wing—a significant amount in a difficult time.

Photo credit: Wing

If other cities had active drone delivery programs in place over the last year, it could be that more small businesses would have been saved from closure.

Read the full study from Virginia Tech to learn more about how drone delivery can help small businesses.

Know of other items we could add to this list? Chime in on this thread in the UAV Coach community forum.

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