Walgreens' multichannel customers have three times the value: IRCE 2011

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Multichannel customers are three times more valuable to Walgreen Co. than single-channel customers, said Sona Chawla, president of e-commerce at the company, on June 16. Speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in San Diego, she said 25% of Walgreens' online prescription orders come from the company's mobile website and apps.

Chawla said new channels will allow Walgreens to add products and services that extend beyond the retail store. Forty-two percent of the brand's product assortment is exclusive to its website, she said.

“New channels help us do more with our core assets,” said Chawla. “They add more depth and more ways to manage our stores and your health.”

Last year, Walgreens launched “Refill by Scan,” an app that enables consumers to refill prescriptions in less than 30 seconds by scanning a barcode with a mobile device. Chawla showed a TV commercial promoting the app that portrayed a man refilling his prescription while hiking across a frozen mountaintop.

“Some of our customers say they love the app so much they wish they had more prescriptions to scan,” she said.

Walgreens also offers prescription text alerts, which let consumers receive messages when their prescription is ready to be filled. More than 2 million consumers have subscribed since the service debuted last year, said Chawla, who added that the company is piloting a program that lets consumers refill subscriptions by text.

Walgreens' March acquisition of Drugstore.com for $409 million will accelerate the chain's goal of becoming the most convenient retailer in healthy living, she said. The deal also let Walgreens expand on its product portfolio by adding Drugstore.com assets Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and SpaLook.com, as well as Drugstore.com's 60,000 products and 3.2 million customers, said Chawla.

“Drugstore.com operates some of the most popular websites in beauty living,” she said. “We have a great product assortment, but we think people like to shop in specialized ways. Having portfolio websites allows us to meet customer need across all our verticals.”

In addition to a wide variety of products, Chawla stressed the importance of delivering to consumers in a timely fashion. She touted Walgreens' Web Pickup feature, which the company is testing across select markets, as a new channel that will connect customers to physical stores. The feature lets consumers order a product online and pick it up within one hour at the nearest retail location.

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