ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

CVS Caremark bets on mobile innovation to extend stores’ reach

While front-of-the-store sales are anemic in the face of stiff competition, CVS Caremark is experiencing gains in prescription sales and a growing business managing drug benefit plans for health insurers and employers. As consumers embrace mobile phones to bring added convenience to their wellness goals by simplifying prescription refills and remembering when to take prescribed medications, CVS is positioning itself to play an important role in enabling its customers to reach their goals.

Here, CVS Caremark’s chief digital officer Brian Tilzer talks with Mobile Commerce Daily about why mobile is one of the company’s biggest opportunities, how increased personalization drives mobile engagement and the importance of fostering collaboration and innovation among its employees.

What role and how big a role is mobile playing for CVS?
Our goal is to make it easier for people to stay healthy and save time and money by accessing all of CVS Caremark’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, and mobile is one of our biggest opportunities.

By using mobile to integrate the front store and pharmacy experiences, we can provide a level of personalized value that truly supports each customer on their path to better health. For example, we can offer texts to remind people to take their medication and we can also help caregivers track when patients have taken their medications.

We’re continuing to add new mobile tools to our lineup, so we can deepen our personal relationships with customers, and stay at the forefront in the industry.

What is your biggest win in mobile to date?
CVS Caremark has been at the forefront of mobile innovation, and one of the biggest ‘wins’ from a customer experience perspective is what we’re calling our digital toolkit. Our numerous health resources allow us to put customers’ health at the forefront.

The CVS/pharmacy Mobile smartphone app includes features like the “Pill Identifier” and “Drug Interaction Checker”, and CVS/pharmacy has even developed a voice-activated pharmacy in the CVS/pharmacy iPad app that makes it easier than ever before for customers to use their phone or iPad to manage and refill prescriptions, as well as keep track of their family’s medicines and health.

Of course, this is just the beginning – CVS Caremark continues to see mobile as a huge area where innovation is critical to helping consumers manage their overall health needs.

What is the biggest challenge drugstores/pharmacies face in mobile going forward? The biggest opportunity?
The biggest opportunity for us as a healthcare company is to continue to integrate and personalize the pharmacy and retail experiences so it’s easier and more convenient for customers to live healthier lives. And of course, this means it’s imperative for us to stay ahead of – and utilize – the latest mobile and digital technologies.

Through the latest innovation, we’re bringing personalized online and mobile experiences to customers and using digital and omni-channel innovation as an extension of the retail store.

How will your mobile strategy evolve going forward?
Customers increasingly expect retailers to provide a personalized experience, therefore our mobile strategy will continue to focus on personalization. For us, personalization is concentrated on how we can impact behavior and encourage customers on their path to better health.

We’ll continue looking into emerging technologies, and exploring how these technologies can help us better fit the needs of our shoppers. And we have a number of great enhancements we will be announcing later this year, as we’re constantly working to be on the cutting edge.

We are committed to providing the connected health tools that make it radically easier for people to stay healthy, save time and money – all from the palm of their hand.

What advice would you offer other retailers who are looking to build a mobile presence?
We’re in an exciting age with new mobile technology emerging all the time. It’s important that retailers focus on what technology is the best fit for their goals and ultimately the customer.

And a key piece of this is building the right team to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and innovation. At CVS Caremark, there is a critical importance in finding the right talent for our teams, as we have the unique opportunity to influence our customers’ behavior and lead them on a path to better health.

While our focus is on using mobile as a tool to integrate the pharmacy and retail experiences, we’re creating one omni-channel experience so that customers can have a choice in when, where and how they want to engage with us. Through strong networking and recruiting the best and brightest, we’re able to add new talent to our Digital group who can share new perspectives, leverage new and emerging technologies and help bring that vision to life.

That investment in people is something all other retailers and healthcare companies should keep in mind.

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