One of the most visible representations of Rite Aid’s efforts to make a comeback is its Wellness store format. The company first unveiled the format in several test markets in the Northeast last year, gradually expanding it to other states. Today, more than 420 stores have been converted, and the chain hopes to eventually make the format the norm. The company plans to have 780 stores converted by the end of the year.
Rite Aid’s vision for its Wellness stores is apparent upon first stepping through the doors: Lighter colors and lower shelves create a brighter, more open look for the store; updated signage, new ways of arranging SKUs and new sections give it a more modern, stylish look; and the store’s Wellness Ambassadors help make the store and pharmacy more accessible. In a conference call with analysts to announce the chain’s first quarter 2013 earnings in June, president, chairman and CEO John Standley said the Wellness stores have been outperforming Rite Aid’s core stores.
So far, it seems that the Wellness Ambassadors are a major part of what has made the Wellness format successful. The Wellness Ambassadors walk the aisles of the store with iPads, offering assistance to customers, information about various products and directing people to the pharmacy if they need further assistance. In the company’s third quarter 2012 conference call in December 2011, Standley said those stores that had Wellness Ambassadors were doing better than the ones without. As of June, the company had trained about 600 Wellness Ambassadors.