Pharmacies step up
On 25th March 2013, CVS Pharmacy (the largest pharmacy chain in the United States) has launched an interactive mobile shopping application for iPad. This innovative iPad app lets consumers shop for items, while exploring a virtual 3D CVS store.
In a recent interview regarding the app launch, the chief digital officer for CVS Pharmacy mentioned that the company’s strategy is to integrate mobile with all the other channels in order to ‘create a seamless and enjoyable experience’ across all CVS pharmacy customer touchpoints. Just saying the magic words, ‘create a seamless and enjoyable experience’ does not make CVS pharmacy the perfect retailer, it just shows that retailers have the means to deliver a great customer experience across all channels.
There is no doubt that nowadays retailers must invest in an omni-channel strategy to cater for today’s modern consumer needs, and what this really means is to provide a consistent brand message and customer experience across all touchpoints (offline and online). In an ultra competitive world, it is not enough only to survive; retailers must offer their consumers a unique and interactive experience that will differentiate them from their competitors.
Compared to CVS pharmacy, the mainstream pharmacy retailers in UK (Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and The Co-operative Pharmacy) seem to be a bit behind. The Co-operative Pharmacy does not have a mobile optimized website or native apps, Lloyds Pharmacy has launched a few apps (a Diabetes Check-up, an iHealth BPM app), to their credit though Lloyds Pharmacy owner Celesio announced at the end of last year their plans to rebrand, so hopefully a multichannel approach will be included in their strategy.
With Boots however it is a different story. In a Q&A published last year in Marketing Week, Boots’ Director of Insight, explained why Boots have been slow to adopt mobile apps: “We’ve been much more considered so that we can produce something that customers will find value in. It’s more important before getting seduced by sexy apps that you get the basics of digital right, otherwise you risk doing all the shiny bits without having the foundations right.”
Boots’ website is mobile optimized, and their mobile shopping experience is not bad, however I have mixed feelings with the above comments. Although they want to concentrate on the ‘basics’ to essentially get the app ‘right’ (which is key), they do not want to delay too long and enable their competitors to get a competitive edge over them. It is 2013 and we are firmly in the grips of a mobile orientated world. Customers will no doubt find value in a Boots app – just by looking at the different reviews for Boots Treat Street Trolley Dash app (which is actually a game), people were disappointed, I quote “Isn’t it time Boots had a real app like the rest of the retail world? Not exactly rocket science…”