CVS Pharmacy on Thursday said that it has expanded its same-day prescription delivery service to 6,000 CVS Pharmacy locations, for $7.99. The drugstore unit, the retail division of CVS Health, began piloting same-day service in 2017 and has been delivering prescriptions nationwide for about a year, according to a company press release. Delivery, often within an hour, is provided through Target-owned same-day delivery company Shipt.
A one- to two-day service remains available nationwide for $4.99, according to the release. Household items like over-the-counter cold and flu and allergy medications, pain relief, first aid, digestive health, vitamins, baby, personal and feminine care products can be added to the orders, the company said.
To take advantage of the retailer's same-day delivery service, customers select On-Demand prescription delivery service via the CVS Pharmacy app, or they can also set up the service through text or by calling their local CVS Pharmacy.
CVS has been developing this service for a while now, and its nationwide rollout gives it strength against rivals like Walmart, Walgreens and Amazon.
"This has the potential for CVS to secure a meaningful leadership position in eCommerce that it has not had yet if expanded and leveraged strategically," Chris Perry, VP at Edge by Ascential, said in comments emailed to Retail Dive. "[T]heir massive store network and rapid expansion plan gives them 'first-mover' advantage in many markets similar to how Walmart is leveraging online grocery pick-up expansion across its store networks to command market leadership in grocery."
Like Walmart, the retailer is taking advantage of its many brick-and-mortar locations to provide local customers with a higher level of convenience. Amazon, which as of last year owns online pharmacy PillPack, is otherwise selling over-the-counter medications (including under an exclusive label), but even after its Whole Foods acquisition doesn't run as many physical locations as CVS and doesn't fill drug prescriptions through the ones it has.
Walgreens, meanwhile, is keen on cost cuts after a disappointing quarter, a focus that often precludes a retailer from entering high-touch convenience plays like home delivery, although the drugstore offers prescription fulfillment by mail. The retailer's annual cost savings target from what executives this week called "the transformational cost management program" tops $1 billion "to in excess of $1.5 billion by fiscal 2022."
"Prescriptions as a 'product offering' gives [CVS] a differentiated value proposition not yet offered by many players that they could quickly complement with cross-selling other products to build baskets and capture wallet share," Perry also said. "[T]heir broad customer base may provide them a scalable foothold with older generations who have yet to fully shift to eCommerce but may increasingly due to CVS dependence, decreased mobility, life maximization and overall convenience and speed."
Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the delivery vendor for CVS Pharmacy deliveries within hours. Shipt is handling same-day deliveries, while CVS itself handles one- and two-day deliveries.