Set up in Chicago in 1901, Mr Charles R Walgreen set up a pharmacy shop that would soon expand and go on to become the second largest pharmacy chain in the US – after CVS Health.
Today Walgreens is 118 years old and specializes in a wide range of products, from filling prescriptions, health products, wellness products, photography services and health information. It now operates over 9,000 stores all across the country.
With a massive digital landscape of mobile apps, consumers have become highly selective when it comes to which apps they decide to use. We love our social media apps, a handful of games, and messaging services. In fact, the average mobile user has 67 apps on their phone, although they actually use only 25. And so more than half of apps remain neglected. Figuring out why consumers use some apps and not others is not an exact science.
For those that have found the formula, Walgreens has been one of the most successful, and has been developing its mobile app for a decade now, and has been downloaded more than 50 million times – carrying a 5-star review on Apple’s App Store.
Over the years, Walgreens has carried out gradual improvements in terms of its tech stack and more generally their customer digital experiences. Their tech of choice is Adobe Experience Cloud, the broad digital solution toolkit that includes the digital experience platform Adobe Experience Manager – popular with many of the biggest and best brands – and Adobe Analytics.
Using broad brushes of customer data, Walgreens have been creating enhanced online journeys for their digital visitors, injecting great depth of personalization so that each experience is tailor-made to each customer at the right time.
The Walgreens app essentially makes shopping smoother, easier, and quicker by personalizing these digital shopping trips. Which is some feat, given that the app has been downloaded 50 million times, and nearly 8 million shoppers interact with the store either in person or digitally every day.
One of the more popular features on the Walgreens app is the prescription service functionality. Within a couple of taps of the screen, online users can re-do orders and pick them up on the same day. And with Walgreens Express, you can prepay your order and stroll into the store and leave in a matter of minutes. As the years went by, Walgreens built a huge community of customers who use the app to handle their healthcare.
Take as one example Walgreens Flu Index. It analyzes the impact and change of specific medications and is able to track which types of people are likely to experience moments for influenza. When this data is known, Walgreens then pushes out notifications via its mobile app to its customers that they assess are at high risk, and equipping them with all the relevant information to keep them aware and sick-free.
A second example is how they are using Adobe products like Adobe Experience Manager is to ensure their customers take their medicine on time. Their Pill Reminders app helps users when it comes to their prescriptions, and ensuring they take their pills on time. Using good data from Analytics, it painted in-depth individual portraits that used the app often and regularly, and then it browsed through their customer list and highlighted those who were similar but were not using the app as much. By reminding those customers who have prescriptions that forget to use the app, Walgreens managed to gradually grow their user base.
And with such a supply of data Walgreens are figuring out how to further expand their ways of supporting the health and fitness goals of its customers.
Its Adobe powers are also applied to promotional content. As one example, it was used to create a video feature which enables customers to activate a promotion in just one tap of the screen.
These few examples demonstrate the broad abilities Walgreens have in developing a strong network of apps that provide both useful and popular, built on the personalization tools that Abode provides. Useful apps that are used frequently translates into stronger brand loyalty and communication.
And their forceful push into the frontiers of mobile and digital truly paid off during 2020 and everything that this year has represented: mass store closures, pivots to digital stores; and in general huge drops in total sales and soaring ecommerce sales. Walgreens ended the fiscal year with a 2% increase in total sales – small but significant given that most companies struggled to keep their head above water this year.
Consumers have turned en masse to digital out of necessity while brands and retailers have had to focus mostly on their online shop. While the rise of mobile ecommerce is set to become the default in 2021. Walgreens has smartly positioned itself as a leader in digital, and while 2021 may be the make or break for many, the future of Walgreens looks much more secure.