Walgreens setting the stage to be an entirely different retailer; new magazine just a first step in that direction

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Omni-channel retailing is so yesterday. Omni-national retailing is the space where Walgreens is looking to play, and this magazine is just one of the first examples of how retailing concepts from the Old Country will be imported from across the Pond and translated for the U.S. market. 

(THE NEWS: Walgreens launches new biannual magazine showcasing private label, Balance Rewards deals. For the full story, click here.) 

The way Alliance Boots handles private label, the way the British retailer approaches seasonal and the way all of that gets brought together through a comprehensive loyalty program are just some of the best practices Walgreens executives identified early on in its partnership with Alliance Boots. For example, Alliance Boots takes a very different approach to seasonal. They're mostly health- and beauty-focused whereas many stateside retailers are still very general-merchandise-focused. 

Walgreens' new Happy and Healthy magazine appears to seize on each of those elements — private label, health and beauty and tying it together through the Balance Rewards loyalty program — suggesting the two companies are moving quickly to identify and apply relative synergies. To be sure, phase one is unfolding at a quick pace judging from other news announced earlier this week, namely that Walgreens and Alliance Boots have created a new jointly owned development company as part of their strategic partnership’s synergy program. 

Meanwhile, growing evidence of the globalization of the pharmacy business continues to unfold as Alliance Boots moved steadily along last week, with the transfer of ownership of Alliance Healthcare Russia from AB Acquisitions Holdings Limited, the parent company of Alliance Boots, to Alliance Boots. Alliance Healthcare Russia will be part of the package when Walgreens pulls the trigger on its second step in the acquisition process: a full merger of the two companies. 

And soon, Walgreens may be importing best practices from beyond even the U.K. border. Just last month, Alliance Boots acquired a stake in the Chinese wholesale market, further entrenching its position within that burgeoning economy. 

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