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CVS fires back at Apple Pay with in-app mobile wallet

CVS Health is joining the slew of marketers rolling out their own mobile payments services with the introduction of CVS Pay, an in-application feature that enables customers to pay for items, pick up prescriptions and collect loyalty points using a single bar code.

The pharmacy chain is allowing frequent shoppers to eschew using mobile payment platforms such as Android Pay and Apple Pay in favor of its own branded solution, which is now integrated within the CVS Pharmacy app. Consumers can leverage CVS Pay to combine multiple checkout processes into one, showcasing how other marketers can streamline payment experiences with their own mobile wallets.

“CVS Health is dedicated to making health care convenient, personal and affordable – and digital tools are key to delivering this experience,” said Brian Tilzer, chief digital officer of CVS Health. “That’s why we have decided to develop our own payment solution, offering a seamless and end-to-end experience for our customers.

“CVS Pay is more than just payment functionality,” he said. “It provides a convenient and integrated experience that simplifies the entire checkout experience, from picking up their prescription to earning ExtraCare deals.

“We have more than 7,900 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide, so the ultimate impact of CVS Pay is significant, in terms of making a healthy lifestyle easier and more convenient for our customers.”

Bottling up added convenience
The new end-to-end mobile payments solution is now accessible within the CVS Pharmacy iOS and Android apps for customers in select markets, including Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A nationwide rollout will occur later this year.

CVS Pay integrates with all major credit cards – such as MasterCard, American Express, Discover and Visa – as well as debit cards, flexible spending account cards and health savings accounts.

CVS Pharmacy app users are now able to streamline their checkout experiences by combining several steps into one bar code scan. Individuals can refill and manage their prescriptions in the app as well as receive alerts when one is ready for pickup.

When customers are ready to pay for their prescriptions, they may visit a CVS store, retrieve them and make one purchase using a single bar code for all of their orders.

Users can also integrate their ExtraCare rewards card with CVS Pay, resulting in each checkout scan processing all ExtraCare offers. Consumers will earn rewards with each payment without having to undertake any extra steps.

To get started using the service, customers can add their desired debit or credit card into the CVS Pharmacy app. When they are ready to complete a checkout in-store, they can show the associate their unique in-app bar code.

The cashier will scan the bar code and let the shopper select a payment method in the app before processing the transaction.

Any prescription or payment verification – such as a PIN number, signature or birth date – will appear in the app. Once the transaction is complete, customers will receive a confirmation in the CVS Pharmacy app.

Digitizing the checkout experience
CVS Pay’s rollout comes on the heels of the pharmacy chain’s wave of mobile-centric innovations designed to enhance in-store experiences and boost sales.

Several months ago, CVS employed a more streamlined digital focus for its in-store offerings while beefing up its loyalty memberships by enabling ExtraCare Rewards members to receive mobile-optimized digital receipts via email (see story).

Additionally, CVS Health brought mobile delivery to the mainstream drugstore industry this past spring through a native integration of ordering service Curbside in its app (see story).

By making the purchasing process more convenient for time-strapped consumers, CVS is well-positioned to fend off competition from other national pharmacy brands.

The introduction of its own mobile payments platform also offers significant implications for its competitors. Although enabling shoppers to check out via well-known platforms such as Apple Pay and Android Pay is paramount for any marketer, more retailers are rolling out their own branded payments solutions – and to great success.

The volume of transactions on Walmart Pay, the retailer’s standalone mobile payments service, recently increased 45 percent week-over-week, following the completion of the solution’s rollout to all of Walmart’s stores in the United States (see story).

This suggests that frequent shoppers of a particular brand are easily swayed to use its own mobile wallet, especially if loyalty integration is also included.

“Thus far, we’ve been very pleased by the success of our digital properties,” Mr. Tilzer said. “At a glance, one out of three CVS Pharmacy customers use at least one or more of our digital tools.

“In fact, we had 10 million new digital customers across our digital properties just last year,” he said. “With 38 million total active customers, that’s an impressive number.

“We hope that our customers will have a similarly favorable reaction to CVS Pay, as the integration will make it easier for our stores to process orders and speed up both drive-thru and in-store lines.”