Walgreens Digital Push Pays Off With 60 Million App Downloads

After investing $1 billion into tech in 2018, the retail giant is seeing continued growth in digital prescriptions and e-commerce.

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Need to Know

  • After pledging a $1 billion tech investment in 2018, Walgreens is seeing continued growth in both e-commerce and digital prescriptions.
  • Walgreens is prioritizing mass personalization and reimagining the prescription “journey” with updated user journeys.
  • First-quarter 2020 digital sales are already up 9% from last year and digital prescription refills are up 18%.
  • Walgreen’s app has been downloaded 60 million times.

Analysis

In an effort to further its digital transformation, Walgreens is prioritizing investments in mass personalization and reinventing the pharmacy prescription journey. 

After investing $1 billion into tech in 2018, mass personalization in the prescription journey is the next step for Walgreens in overhauling its digital assets. This initiative will utilize marketing spending more efficiently to connect the right consumer to Walgreens’ products. Plus, a reimagined prescription “journey” will connect consumers more closely to their prescriptions. 

Both initiatives are designed to boost customer engagement and drive long-term revenue and growth. 

The retail giant is also working on moving its data resources to a new and more flexible cloud-based infrastructure, which will allow them to build on their customer experience and make their teams more efficient.

“Clearly, this work on the digitalization of our company [closely ties to] our work to modernize our retail offering and the shape and structure of our retail footprint. At the same time we are working with partners to redefine the delivery of health care in the community and the important role of pharmacy in the immediate and longer-term future,” explains Walgreens’ executive vice-chairman and CEO, Stefano Pessina.

The investment is clearly working. In its first quarter of 2020, digital sales reached over $3.7 billion, up 9% from last year. Over Black Friday weekend in 2019, walgreens.com sales were up over 45% compared to the year prior. The Walgreens app has been downloaded 60 million times, which is an increase of 12% since last year. And around 33% of Walgreens eligible digital prescription refills were entered via digital channels, up almost 18% since 2019.

But Walgreens may have some competition on their hands. 

North Carolina-based grocer, Food Lion, launched a mobile pharmacy app today. The app allows customers to find a Food Lion pharmacy, ask for prescription refills, view their prescription history, transfer medications, and more. The chain operates 32 Food Lion pharmacy locations in five states.

But Walgreens shouldn’t be worried. 

The retail giant has also seen recent success with its partnership with Kroger. After launching an exploratory pilot project in 2018, in which 35 Walgreens stores featured a curated selection of Kroger’s popular Our Brands products, the company formed a new group purchasing organization to cut supplier costs across private label sourcing and expand their collaboration.

“We expect this joint venture to deliver cost savings, encourage sourcing innovation, and generate efficiencies across the supply chain,” said Alex Gourlay, Co-COO & president, Walgreens. 

Said Pessina in a press release, “We are confident our strategic plans are the right ones to drive long-term sustainable growth going forward.”

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