Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

CVS Health boosts digital prowess with innovation lab in Boston

Drugstore chain CVS Health is expanding its digital efforts with a new innovation lab in Boston as it looks to strike a more competitive pose in mobile marketing. 

Even though CVS may be a leader in healthcare retail, its mobile strategy has been lacking in comparison to its largest competitor Walgreens. Seeing the potential in mobile, CVS’s move likely aims to push the company toward modern capabilities.

“More and more of our customers go online, and turn to their smartphones or tablets, to get information or manage their health,” said Brian Tilzer, chief digital officer at CVS Health, Boston. “The number of customers using digital and mobile channels to refill prescriptions, redeem coupons and rewards, and access health resources is continuing to grow rapidly.

“Digital is ubiquitous and highly configurable, a powerful combination, because it allows us to meet our customers where they are,” he said. “Digital is no longer tied to a desktop and our goal is to make it easier for people to stay healthy and save time and money by accessing all of CVS Health’s unique assets when, where and how they want.

“This is powered by new digital capabilities that unlock the benefits and value of our integrated model. A lot is happening at CVS, and there is so much more opportunity ahead for us and our customers. We’re investing in talent acquisition and a smart digital strategy to integrate pharmacy and retail store experiences across digital, mobile and brick and mortar channels to empower our customers on a path to better health.”

Making mobile moves
The new digital innovation lab is located at 116 Huntington Ave. in Boston. 

The 15,000-square-foot facility will serve as a hub for the company’s growing digital team, which is also seeking new talent.

The CVS Health Digital team will remain headquartered in Woonsocket, RI. CVS Health also recently completed the opening of a new digital experience center at the company’s headquarters in Woonsocket.

CVS Health chose the city of Boston because of the wealth of tech sector businesses establishing bricks-and-mortar sites.

CVS Health believes the new location will be instrumental in furthering the company’s mission of leveraging digital technology to put people on the path to better health.

The new lab can house approximately 100 employees, with 90 percent of them anticipated as new hires. Plans for the new office include the creation of an open concept workspace that encourages the sharing of ideas and innovation to produce the next level of digital technology that will help enhance the customer experience through convenient, easy-to-use digital tools.

Slow to start
CVS’ recent rebellion against Apple Pay is just one of many moves that could cause consumers to withdraw from the retailer. In fact, it seems that CVS’ digital strategy has been slow to start, given the lack of support the retailer shows for innovation.

Meanwhile, its biggest competitor Walgreens recently shared its success of iBeacon deployment.

A Walgreens executive at the Mobile Women to Watch 2015 Summit discussed the drugstore chain’s mobile strategies and achievements, including seeing in-store NFC payments double after integrating with innovative partners such as Apple Pay.

During the “Walgreens: Simplifying Mobile Strategy to Strengthen Consumer Relationships” session, the executive detailed five primary lessons that Walgreens abides by when developing mobile strategy, including striving for simplicity, honing in on details in mobile and using mobile as a link between the physical and digital world (see story).

Following its recent decision to stop selling cigarettes in all of its pharmacy locations, CVS is trying to transition itself into a healthcare company.

“CVS Health continues to be ahead of the curve with creating cutting-edge digital services,” Mr. Tilzer said. “We are very passionate about the digital toolkit, and we’re doing innovative work in this space.

“We have a number of great enhancements we will be announcing later this year, as we’re constantly working to be the most innovative and create the best results for our customers,” he said. “We are constantly innovating with the goal of helping people improve their health and lives.

“Coming up with new tools and experiences to make this possible for our customers, through digital innovation, is something we’re passionate about, and that will continue to be a focus for us moving forward.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York