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Walgreens continues on-site mobile integration with ship-to-store

Drugstore chain Walgreens is continuing the expansion of its mobile offering by rolling out a ship-to-store option for online and mobile customers free of charge.

The decision to provide the option comes on the heels of an expansion of Walgreens’ online product selection. Users shopping online and on their mobile devices can order products not available at Walgreens or Duane Reade— a Walgreen subsidiary located primarily in New York— and pick them up at a location of their choice, free of charge and with no minimum order required.

“As an omnichannel retailer, we offer our customers choices for how they want to shop Walgreens,” said Ken Rice, digital commerce director of omnichannel at Walgreens. “Ship to Store is another way that we provide convenience for our customers with an enhanced assortment of products as well as a safe and convenient location to pick up purchases.”

Moving to mobile
Walgreens, which has historically had one of the most robust brick-and-mortar presences in retail, does not seem to be taking consumers’ shift towards online and mobile shopping lying down.

In response to the transition, the company has used the mobile space to address one of the major concerns with having to maintain an existing bricks-and-mortar infrastructure – limited space that translates into an equally limited product selection. Walgreens currently uses its online shopping infrastructure as a home for an expanded inventory that users of its mobile app can also access.

The addition of the ship to store option, and the decision to make it free of charge and to not require a minimum order, is a strong play for the online and mobile-centric consumers that Walgreens could potentially have. The feature bolsters an additional revenue stream for the company while incentivizing consumers to come to a Walgreens or Duane Reade location to buy essential products like toiletries that they would normally not plan out to purchase.

Walgreens is also offering paperless coupons, rewards benefits and other digital promotions in conjunction with the rollout of ship to store.

Covering its bases
The move is a strategic one for Walgreens, which has the physical infrastructure to fully optimize such an offering; there is a Walgreens or Walgreens subsidiary store within five miles of 75 percent of the U.S. population.

The company provides shipping to a variety of its stores

And the move is just one of many Walgreens is making in the mobile space. Earlier this month, the drugstore giant introduced a new subset of its Balance Rewards application, called Beauty Enthusiast, that offers users rewards points and personalized product recommendations, showcasing the potency of targeting specific groups of consumers with relevant content (see story).

And as an early adopter of search ads in the Google Play store, Walgreens has found that being able to find a user at the moment of interest is driving downloads among qualified users, leading the retailer to expand the program earlier this year (see story).

“Some customers want or need something right away, while others are interested in a broader selection of items we carry and they are okay with waiting for what they need or want while not having to shop around elsewhere looking for the items,” Mr. Rice said. “In addition, since there is no order minimum for free shipping, we are lowering friction around placing an order online or via mobile.

“Our Ship to Store customers make their payments online so when they go to pick up their items, it is a very simple and quick process in the store.”