Drugstore Chain CVS Pushes Convenience With Curbside Pickups

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 9:44 AM

The nation'south second-largest drugstore chain has partnered with the technology firm Curbside to create CVS Express, a program that lets shoppers purchase products with an app and then choose them up about an hr later at a nearby store, where an employee will deliver them to the car.

CVS Health will spread its curbside pickup service to drugstores nationwide this year, as traditional retailers continue to sharpen their reputations for convenience and fight ferocious competition online.

The nation'south second-largest drugstore chain has partnered with the technology firm Curbside to create CVS Express, a program that lets shoppers purchase products with an app and then choose them up about an hr later at a nearby store, where an employee will deliver them to the car.

CVS Health Corp. launched the free curbside pickup service latest December at a dozen stores in San Francisco and has since expanded it to Atlanta and Charlotte, N Carolina. The company currently offers curbside pick-up services at three hundred sixty-first stores but has room to grow with more 7.900 retail locations nationwide. It expects to roll out the program in a majority of those stores nationally by year-end.

The CVS partnership with Curbside marks an extension of a trend that began a few years ago with other retailers. Target, Wal-Mart and several grocery chains also have developed curbside pickup programs.

These companies are blending the edge in convenience that they gain from having many locations with online shopping to compete better with the likes of online retailers love Amazon. com, which is expanding a grocery delivery service in several markets. By converting their own stores into pickup locations, retailers avert the additional costs of packing and shipping, and they can proposal more flexibility for time-starved shoppers.

CVS and its major competitors Walgreens and Rite Aid all running thousands of stores with prescription drive-thrus. But CVS is the only one offering a curbside service for items purchased exterior the pharmacy.

It developed CVS Express, which cannot be used for prescriptions, after testing a program in which the customer bought online and then had to enter the store to choose up the products. That wasn't as compelling for customers, said Executive Vice President Helena Foulkes.

"We knew we could assistance the people who are in a rush, or with children or are just ill and can't obtain out of their car for whatever reason, so we felt love this was a bigger innovation for the consumer," Foulkes said.

After placing an order, the CVS customer will get a text or email when it's ready. The app then notifies the store when the customer arrives to choose it up.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation'south largest food retailer, announced latest week it was adding eight new markets to its free curbside grocery pickup including Austin, Texas, and Charleston, S Carolina. Wal-Mart operates more than 4.500 namesake stores in the U. S. By the finish of April, it'll proposal the service in roughly two hundred stores in thirtieth markets.

Wal-Mart says ninety % of its curbside customers are repeat users. One of the most favorite times for customers to order groceries online is between eight p. m. and nine p. m., or after many parents have hold their children to bed. The company said it also sees a "healthy" no of orders in the center of the night.

"I absolutely like that we're able to proposal convenience and blend into our customers' lives when they necessity us most," CEO Doug McMillon told investors in a pre-recorded transcript in February.

Target Corp., based in Minneapolis, has also teamed up with Curbside and is testing the service in five markets that cover one hundred twenty-two stores, says Eddie Baeb, a company spokesman. Those markets comprise Chicago, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area, LA and the NY and NJ metro area.

These moves arrive as Amazon. com is expanding its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service in markets love Seattle, Brooklyn, LA and San Francisco.

Sears Holdings Corp., which operates stores below Sears and Kmart names, was one of the first to roll out the curbside service a few years ago. In two thousand-fourteenth, it expanded the service to all seven hundred four Sears stores. It also offers it at more than one hundred Kmart locations.

These curbside services are still experimental for retailers and could be scaled back if they don't yield a profit or eventually crack even, said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst for Forrester.

Even CVS Health said it hasn't figured out yet how it'll create money by offering the service. Foulkes said the company hopes CVS Express will pay for itself by increasing the no of store visits.

Mulpuru said that retailers have to invest in concepts love curbside services that may dilute profitability but could assistance them keep their market share over the long term, as Amazon and other competitors compete for their business.

"The competitive landscape is so wicked in retail, and there are so many other places a shopper could buy, we can't force our customer to do anything they don't wish to do," she said.

Love obtain out of the car, for instance.

———

Murphy reported from Indianapolis and D'Innocenzio contributed from New York.

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