CVS Pharmacy will soon begin rolling out automated retail vending machines in what it described as "landmark locations" where it currently does not have stores. The machines will be stocked with convenient, on-the-go necessities, including over-the-counter health products, snacks and popular personal care products, according to a company press release.
The first 25 vending machines will be unveiled between now and the end of October in New England and New York, including locations at LaGuardia Airport, the South Station Bus Terminal in Boston and other public transit stations, as well as office parks and college campuses. CVS is evaluating another 50 locations as it expands the program.
Each vending machine will be customized on an individual store basis with more than 70 products, such as over-the-counter medications, beauty products, vitamins, children’s first aid items, batteries, phone chargers and more. Product brands will include exclusive CVS Pharmacy store brand lines like CVS Health, Beauty 360, Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem Abound.
Retailers of all types are looking to place largely automated machines and kiosks in their stores and beyond their brick-and-mortar locations to help customers accomplish quick shopping trips, pick up pre-ordered items and provide them with points of engagement outside of their traditional brick-and-mortar reach.
Discount Drug Mart is one example of a retailer that is using them in-store, as it started putting holographic kiosks in stores for customer engagement purposes earlier this year. Walmart also has tested kiosks for in-store order pick-up. Uniqlo put a slightly different spin on this strategy recently by putting vending machines in places like malls and airports, which is what CVS is doing. All of these efforts are also boosting the market for multi-touch screens, which tend to be used in such machines.
The new CVS machines feature a 22" multi-touch screen, high resolution images with expansive product information and a QR code reader to read barcodes and promotional codes, along with a lot of guiding instructions on how to use them. The machines also will be ADA compliant, and will accept all major credit and debit cards, CVS said. CVS did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for more details.
The new vending machines seem like another step in CVS' efforts to revitalize its brand. The retailer introduced a revamped store design earlier this year, and last year began a curbside pick-up program. It has also been aggressive in supporting mobile payments via CVS Pay. The vending machines could be another move toward higher convenience, making it easier for consumers to shop for items like band-aids more quickly without needing to find a CVS store. Customer may start believing CVS is just about everywhere, without CVS having to open new stores just about everywhere.
Editor's note: This story has been updated.