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How Walgreens frames mobile for photo-ordering success

Today, 40 percent of Walgreens’ digital print orders come from mobile devices, pointing to how the chain has quickly ramped up its photo-editing and ordering capabilities over the past couple of years in response to the significant role smartphones play in how consumers take and store photos.

Photo processing is an important value-add service offered by many big drugstore chains. However, as consumers have embraced smartphones for taking photos as well as editing, sharing and storing them, Walgreens is leading the way when it comes to making mobile-driven photo services available to its customers and marketing them as a point of differentiation.

“Over the years, we’ve continued to invest in our mobile photo technology, as we understand that many of our customers are increasingly using devices to take and store photos,” said Mai Lee Ua, a spokeswoman for Walgreens, Springfield, IL. “Today, 40 percent of digital print orders come from mobile devices – compared to less than one percent in 2010.

“Photo editing has become a more common place feature, and Walgreens offers the ability to edit in its app and print directly to Walgreens,” she said. “This provides a more convenient solution for our customers.”

Email marketing
A recent email from Walgreens to opted-in customers is a good example of how the chain is focusing on mobile photo services in it marketing efforts.

The subject line of the email reads: “Spend more time with your selfie + 40% off mobile photo orders!”

By providing a discount off photo orders, Walgreens is giving customers an added reason for customers to use the chain’s photo-processing services for an activity many are already engaged in – taking photos of themselves with their phones.

Upon opening the email, recipients learn that they can print photos from their phone, Facebook and Instagram albums using the Walgreens app and pick up the prints at a Walgreens location in about an hour.

A button reading “Get started” links directly to the page on the Walgreens site where consumers can download the chain’s app.

App usefulness
The email also provides details about the 40 percent off offer. The offer, which is valid through July 19, can be redeemed during checkout on Walgreens mobile app by using the code APPORDER40.

Below this, the email explains how customers can use the app to turn their Instagram photos into square prints and includes a link.

The email explains how to use the app’s photo editing features, which include the ability to add fun effects and filters, remove redeye and blemishes and whiten teeth.

Users can also create collage prints that pull together several photos in one print.

Walgreens continues to fine-tune its app to enhance the usefulness for customers.

An update to the app at the end of June makes it possible for users to clip coupons straight to their Balance Rewards card and add sale items directly to their Shopping List.

The app also added notifications to keep users up-to-date on information about their coupons and Balance Rewards account.

“QuickPrints is a popular print feature within the app,” Ms. Lee said.  “There are many offerings within this feature that are marketed to customers.

“For example, users have the ability to easily edit photos and then print in formats such as greeting cards, square prints (Instagram), creative products such as canvases/posters or collages,” she said.

“Customers are storing photos in many different social properties, and Walgreens aims to provide an easy way to print those photos no matter where they’re located.  The Walgreens app is compatible with Facebook, Instagram and”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York