CVS to launch Express pickup service with Curbside

Dive Brief:

  • CVS Health announced Tuesday it will team up with mobile commerce startup Curbside to offer store pickup services at most of its 8,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2016.
  • The new CVS Express service, currently in pilot programs across a handful of stores in the California, Georgia and North Carolina markets, enables consumers to place an online order via the CVS Pharmacy mobile app. Curbside’s arrival detection software alerts CVS staffers when shoppers are nearing the store so that when they arrive, their orders are ready for pickup.
  • CVS, the nation’s second largest drugstore chain, is also taking an undisclosed stake in Curbside.

Dive Insight:

In-store pickup fulfillment options are becoming a must-have for retailers. According to data published in early 2016 by Retail Systems Research and SPS Commerce, 61% of retailers worldwide now offer in-store pickup options.

So-called buy-online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) services are popular among retailers because they are relatively easy to implement, often save on direct shipping costs, and drive incremental sales in brick-and-mortar locations.

Consumers like these options as well. UPS’s 2015 Pulse of the Online Shopper report found that 38% of consumers had tried a ship-to-store service, up from 35% the previous year. A separate survey from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions published last year reported that 45% of consumers have used BOPIS services.

CVS will not even require shoppers to enter its stores to claim their orders. Curbside’s app will instead enable customers to complete their purchases prior to arrival, and a CVS employee will deliver the order directly to their vehicle. All Express orders will be ready within roughly an hour.

CVS said it is looking to CVS Express as a way to more closely integrate its digital commerce efforts with its brick-and-mortar presence. “We have an asset that is valuable, which is 8,000 locations all across the country, and rather than thinking about the world of e-commerce as a standalone, let’s leverage 8,000 stores,” Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy, told Fortune.

CVS will offer about 75% of the average store’s retail goods for sale through the Express service. Prescription drugs must still be purchased in-store or picked up from a separate drive-through window. 

Foulkes told Fortune that CVS will not charge consumers a fee for using CVS Express services. The company also said it will not mark up any product prices.

Curbside previously partnered with major retailers like Target and Best Buy to offer similar pickup services. According to the Curbside website, its solutions boost monthly customer visits by up to 2.6x, and on average, 61% of customers make repeat purchases.

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