Walgreens, the pharmacy retail chain, is developing “a portfolio of last-mile solutions” to meet evolving consumer needs, according to its global CMO.

More than three quarters of Americans live within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store, but that physical proximity alone is no longer enough to meet shopper requirements in today’s commercial environment, Vineet Mehra, global chief marketing officer at holding company Walgreens Boots Alliance, explained to delegates at CES 2020.

“Because of our small footprint, and easy-to-get-in-and-out-of parking lots, basically we have an [average] eight-minute shopping trip,” he said.

“So, for many, many years, we've defined the terms ‘convenience’ and ‘last mile’ as being able to really get in and out of your shopping mission very, very quickly. And that's been a big part of the proposition.”

That particular brand strength remains important, but the advent of e-commerce, D2C brands and third-party delivery services means it’s no longer the sole differentiator around last-mile convenience or what Mehra refers to as “frictionless shopping”.

“Ultimately, that’s what this game is really about,” he stated: “it’s about the frictionless, seamless interaction with the products, services and experiences you want to acquire.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: Walgreens evolves the “last mile” into a powerful driver of shopper marketing.)

Crucial to that is a better understanding of customer journeys, to which end Walgreens is tapping the vast amount of data generated by its shoppers in order to put a value on potential new delivery options.

“We literally have customer-experience designers who are laying out the five to ten most profitable customer journeys that we have in the company,” Mehra reported. “And they’re figuring out how we can – from a customer service design standpoint – take friction out of each part of that journey.”

Equally significant, though, is that Walgreens serves a wide range of communities across the United States – and, therefore, wants to meet consumer needs in a “democratized” way.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to last mile and limiting customer effort to acquire goods and services,” Mehra said. “I think that’s one of the most important things that we’re learning.”

“What we’re surmising and learning is that you need a portfolio of last-mile solutions.” And while delivery is going to be a big part of that, he added, “how do you also use your physical assets, your stores, and your team members to deliver last-mile experiences as [shoppers] need them?”

Sourced from WARC