The synergies to flow between Boots, Walgreens have only begun to be tapped
LONDON — As part of its multi-channel strategy, Boots UK is currently testing the use of iPads to support in-store ordering across 30 stores, the London-based drug store retailer recently announced.
Sound familiar? Borrowing a page from the Walgreens playbook is evidence that the sharing of best practices will flow in both directions across the Atlantic. What else could Boots borrow from Walgreens? Creating a pharmacy business that better interacts with the neighboring community is one strength at Walgreens that Boots may successfully plug into.
And how about clinics? While the United Kingdom has universal health care, you can’t just walk into a doctors office in London without an appointment. And Walgreens has plenty of experience not only operating a retail clinic as part of a pharmacy format, but also experience in leveraging that clinic against surrounding healthcare providers and employers in an effort to realize the best healthcare value.
That link between Walgreens and Boots will very quickly become a superhighway with best practices flowing in both directions. Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president daily living products and solutions, recently sat down with DSN regarding the big picture in developing successful retail pharmacy formats.
"[Boots] clearly looks at each category differently," he said. For example, Boots is very health- and beauty-focused when it comes to seasonal merchandise, as opposed to the general merchandise fare that stock the seasonal aisles of many American retailers. Other service models that Boots has instituted across the Pond that might be explored by Walgreens include optical and hearing aids.
“We think there are a lot of great learnings that will come our way and we think similar things will happen the other way, as well, in terms of some of our strategies in private label and innovation,” Magnacca said. “I think the way we approach fresh is different than they do today. We think they have a great infrastructure from a supply chain point of view, but we believe we have some very dominant brands that can be heavily leveraged, including our DeLish and Nice! brands," he added.
Both Walgreens and Boots will have increasing opportunities to leave their respective atypical drug store models behind and be more aggressive with a cross-polination of drug store retailing for the future.
Drugs for a penny? It’s all about volume
Earlier this week, DSN reported that members of a prescription drug program offered by Humana to Medicare beneficiaries will soon be able to obtain 10 generic hypertension drugs from Walmart for a penny.
It’s certainly good news for people with high blood pressure, but it also has big implications for the pharmacy retail industry.
In a recent interview with DSN for a company profile to appear in the December issue of the magazine, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said that with the drops in sales that retail pharmacies are seeing because of generics, they will have to replace sales with volume — that means chains getting more customers into the store and distinguishing themselves through service.
Walmart made a big splash when it launched its $4 generics program in 2006, whereby patients could get 30 days’ worth of certain generic drugs for that much, a program later expanded to include 90-day supplies of drugs. At the time, critics said it would take the profitability out of generics, but it wasn’t long before drug, supermarket and mass merchandise chains from coast to coast were offering nearly identical programs of their own.
The latest initiative from Walmart is part of an evolution that’s been happening in the whole idea of generic discount programs. While it’s unlikely that any chain will institute a broad price reduction of its $4 generics to 1 cent, several chains have selectively offered huge price reductions — or eliminations, to be more specific — on certain generic drugs. At the beginning of September, Meijer announced it would offer generic versions of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor (i.e., atorvastatin calcium) for free. That’s in addition to the many other chains giving away supplies of antibiotics and prenatal vitamins.
Obviously, a store doesn’t make anything by selling drugs for a penny, let alone giving them away for free, but as analysts have suggested to DSN, that’s not the point. As with vaccinations and pet medications, super-cheap or free generics are more about getting more customers, which ultimately means better sales overall. It’s not a race to the bottom — retail pharmacies just have to start climbing a different hill.
Edward Hospital opens pair of Quick Care Clinics within Jewel-Osco pharmacies
NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Edward Hospital on Thursday announced the opening of two Quick Care Clinics within a pair of Supervalu’s Jewel-Osco pharmacies.
"We are always seeking new opportunities to expand our services," stated Chris Dimos, Supervalu president of pharmacy and nonfoods merchandising. "Through this partnership, we will be able to offer our patients even more tools to help them manage their health and wellness needs."
Quick Care Clinic services are provided by board-certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants of Edward Medical Group, the primary care practice of Edward Hospital.