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Walgreens staking a multichannel approach

CHICAGO — With the explosion in such mobile devices as smart phones, Walgreens is expanding its access across an ever-wider array of options for health consumers, president and CEO Greg Wasson told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday.

“We’ve made tremendous progress,” Wasson said, on the company’s mission “to become the leading multichannel retailer, which will also help get us closer to the consumer. Our goal is threefold,” he added. “We want to give them what they want, which may be a broader selection of products offered on our website than what we carry in our drug stores; where they want it, which may be delivered to their home or to pick up in our drug stores, and when they want it.

“For those who are shopping online and want to pick up at their Walgreens, it could be one hour with our new QuickShop pilot,” Wasson pointed out. “And for the emerging mobile shoppers, our new smart phone app makes it even more convenient.”

Driving the effort to broaden access points with consumers are studies that show “that multichannel shoppers are three times more valuable to a retailer than a single-channel shopper," Wasson said. "That’s why we’re driving this initiative so hard.”

In sum, chairman Alan McNally told shareholders, “with the accelerating growth of mobile technologies and social networking in our society, our company’s exceptional progress in advancing our e-commerce business during the last two years and our network of stores so conveniently located in communities across America, Walgreens has an enormous opportunity to become the nation’s leading multichannel retailer, where cyberspace meets the physical world in communities across America.”

On the health front, McNally added, “Our in-store and worksite health clinics, our expanding network of home infusion services, our growing support to patients with diabetes and other complex chronic illnesses, more than 7 million H1N1 and seasonal flu shots and other vaccinations and immunizations last year, these are all examples of Walgreens’ expanding role as a community-based pharmacy health-and-wellness healthcare provider ... [with] convenient, local access to quality, affordable services for patients and unique and valuable solutions for employers, health plans and other payers.”

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