Piggly Wiggly Adds Online Pharmacy Service

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The Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain has begun offering online prescription ordering for its shoppers via Grocery Shopping Network's pharmacy service.

Eden Prairie, MN-based Grocery Shopping Network is providing the option to its 1,000 grocery stores that offer online shopping via GSN's Web site.

Working with Denison, TX-based Horizon Pharmacies, GSN allows individual stores to offer prescription orders on their sites. The prescriptions are funneled to Horizon pharmacists and are never viewed or handled by the retailers.

Piggly Wiggly, Memphis, TN, is a prime candidate for the service, with more than 600 independently owned stores in 16 states.

"The pharmacy and prescription drug marketplace is a competitive and potentially lucrative element of the retail environment. Yet, for many of our independent owners and operators, the financial and licensing resources required to operate an on-site pharmacy ... are prohibitive," said Richard Varnon, director of e-commerce at Piggly Wiggly.

Andy Robinson, CEO of GSN, believes shoppers in rural areas will take advantage of the online service. "This is extremely popular in areas that are remote, where they don't have a lot of options," he said.

In addition, small grocery stores cannot afford to hire pharmacists, so they want to give their shoppers the online ordering option via the store's Web site or in-store kiosks, he said.

The problem, according to Robinson, is getting the word out to customers. Most small stores cannot afford to put a computer or kiosk for ordering in the store. So they must heavily promote their Web sites and hope customers will order from home or work.

GSN is sending point-of-purchase kits to its retailers to help promote the service, and Piggly Wiggly plans to launch a $1 million sweepstakes in the near future to boost interest in the program.

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