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Walgreens’ mobile solutions give consumers time back, building loyalty

NEW YORK – A Walgreens executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2016 emphasized the importance of omnichannel experiences, as customers who interact with the retailer through multiple touch points are up to six times more valuable than those who just visit bricks-and-mortar locations.

During the session, Walgreens: Leveraging Mobile to Redefine Convenience for Omnichannel Customers, the executive walked through methods in which the retailer connects with consumers through various moments within customers’ journeys that help provide convenience and give them time back within their day. On top of the slew of its helpful mobile features, Walgreens has developed an in-store mode, which brings helpful content to an easy-to-find location, and also shares its API with partners to expand its brand convenience to wherever platforms users are.

“In addition to our vision, we have seen a clearly tangible benefit in terms of how an omnichannel customer benefits the top line business,” said Kartik Subramanian, director of mobile product, APIs and innovation program at Walgreens. “What we have noticed is that the customer who typically only visits the store is three and a half times less valuable to the company compared to a customer who happens to interact with Walgreens both in the store and on the site.

“Now you add mobile into the equation and what we have noticed is that customer becomes six times more valuable,” he said. “So there is a very clear business benefit or value associated with increasing the number of digital touch points.”

Helpful mobile moments
Walgreens has a series of mobile features that it has developed specifically to provide convenience for its customers, shaving time off of tasks that typically take a long time, such as fulfilling a prescription. While many retailers employ a strategy to try and bring customers back into stores and away from digital devices, Walgreens has seen that interacting with them on multiple touch points creates a much more valuable customer.

The retailer has created an in-store mode and through the use of beacons knows if a customer opens its application within one of its locations, and then serves them content that is most helpful while shopping in stores. For instance, the app answers common questions such as where a product is located or what rewards points they can redeem in store.

These features are available in the app at all times, but in store mode the app brings them to the surface because Walgreens knows that this content is more helpful while shopping.

Perfect partnerships
The drugstore also extends its API to various platform partners and social media platforms for greater retail convenience. For instance, Walgreens has partnered with a slew of photography apps to allow users to quickly order photographs to be printed for pick up in about an hour.

“We strongly believe that even though we have cornered this stream of innovation, more innovation lies with the idea of partners outside of the Walgreens platform,” Mr. Subramanian said. “So we need to actually go out, work with them, provide them with the tools and services that will ultimately drive traffic to our stores, but also provide them with all of our benefits.”