The way Walgreens is deploying technology through its stores may be futuristic, but it is no science fiction. It’s real innovation that is helping to drive its total transformation along so many areas of its business — and it’s being produced in real-time.
What product she wants. Where she wants the product. When she wants the product. Delivering on those promises is what multichannel retailing means to Walgreens. “We believe consumers want choice,” noted Sona Chawla, Walgreens’ president of e-commerce. “People will shop online one day, [and] they’ll shop the store the next day; it depends upon events and what they’re looking for.”
When Walgreens snapped up Manhattan-based retailer Duane Reade back in 2010, it was a significant move for the Deerfield, Ill.-based pharmacy giant as it gave Walgreens — essentially overnight — a leading presence in New York City.
The power of local times 8,000. That’s perhaps one of the most significant transformative tools possessed by Walgreens, which over the past three years has moved to empower its local operators to leverage corporate assets in a single mission to win in each of the markets it serves.
You could say that many of the front-of-store experiences that Walgreens is helping to transform today — photo and memorabilia, beauty, fresh, OTC, even pharmacy — all evolved from Walgreens Customer Centric Retailing project, which began back in 2009. “There were several benefits that we gained from CCR that helped fuel this transformation,” noted Rachel Bishop, Walgreens VP daily living strategy and business development.
The predictability of the chain store shopping experience has long been both a strength and weakness. The quality and experience may be predictably good, but can a shopper have a warm relationship with a store that treats everyone the same?
Patients diagnosed with serious disease have enough on their minds. So Walgreens is doing all it can to make it easier for them to obtain, administer and pay for their specialty and infused medicines, said Mike Ellis, VP specialty pharmacy and infusion.
When National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson earlier this year at NACDS Annual urged pharmacy leaders to be “disruptive innovators,” and new NACDS chairman and Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson called on the industry to embrace a holistic view of the total store in improving patient lives, they easily could have submitted Walgreens and its Take Care Health Systems subsidiary as an ideal case study.