Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?

Discussion
Source: CVS Pharmacy
Apr 20, 2017
Tom Ryan

While announcing plans to expand healthier offerings, CVS revealed it is adding more in-store informational signage and “discovery” displays to help customers explore new offerings and health solutions on their own.

“We did a lot of research to understand how to best serve our customers as we began to reimagine our store experience and we found that people are thinking about their health differently and taking a more proactive approach to staying well,” said Judy Sansone, SVP, front store business and chief merchant, in a statement. “With that in mind we crafted a new shopping journey, all in the name of better health.”

The new store design with its expanded health focus was unveiled Wednesday at a media event at The Garage in Manhattan.

The store re-design highlights themes that make shopping easier. Michelle Driscoll, VP, loyalty and personalization for CVS, told RetailWire that while the prototype has aisles, they’re broken up by “discovery zones” or display cases and tables to offer a more “holistic approach” to care and product solutions.

Signage will be more plentiful to support discovery and education. Examples in press materials included a sign measuring six feet in height by three feet in width explaining how to choose a vitamin or supplement. Another detailed how to “Build your own smoothie.” Digital-video content supports some sections.

Rebecca Grimm, senior director, loyalty design, said the information supports CVS’s overall push towards “self-care” versus “sick-care.”

Connected health, sleep/mode and immunity products, for example, will each have their own “discovery zone” educational displays.

CVS will also add more healthier items, including foods, as it builds on its decision in 2014 to stop selling tobacco to deepen its positioning around health.

In the digital area, the company is further integrating its ExtraCare Rewards loyalty program with its app. New features include manufacturer coupons, the ability to manage ExtraBucks Rewards, and personalized ExtraBucks offers.

“Personal health may be something different to everyone,” said Ms. Grimm. “ExtraCare Rewards saves you money on what means most to you.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense to infuse more self-help and educational details into the drugstore shopping experience? What else would you add to a reimagined drug store?

Braintrust
"As CVS Health continues to evolve this re-imagined drug store, I would look for them to tap into all five senses."
"My hope is that the signage actually provides customers with valuable information instead of just stating the obvious."
"...to be honest, I can’t get my hands around what on earth this is all about. It’s hard to imagine what “discovery” I’d go to a pharmacy for."

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24 Comments on "Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?"

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Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Given a switch of insurers last January, I’m shopping less at Walgreens and more at CVS. I’ve always had a problem with the navigation issue at Walgreens: It’s just as difficult to find things in my newly remodeled neighborhood store as it was before. And the over-assortment of categories having nothing to do with health and wellness may be good for Walgreens’ position as the “neighborhood convenience store,” but it certainly doesn’t help the customer figure things out.

The competing CVS is noticeably easier to shop, with wider aisles and better directional and product signage. If the company takes its execution to the next level — as reported — it could be part of a broader competitive advantage over Walgreens.

Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust

It is about time the pharmacy category woke up. They MUST mean more than a prescription destination or another convenience store.

There is a difference between the high road and the high ground however. I’m not sure that CVS is claiming they’ve created anything that matters enough to shop at a different pharmacy than the one closest to my home. Wait and see.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Hooray for CVS! Consumers want more information on which to base purchase decisions (so says the latest iVend consumer survey), so enabling the shopper journey at the discovery point of selection is empowering and it benefits the brand and the retailer. This is a high-ROI approach to merchandising investment.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Consumers want information to make health care decisions, but will they take the time to read displays in stores versus finding it on the Internet? If I had to vote, I’d go with the Internet. Hopefully the CVS redesign will make it easier for consumers to navigate the store and sift though the myriad of line extensions that frustrate formerly simple buying decisions.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Congratulations to CVS Health on extending its commitment to the consumer’s health journey by enhancing the in-store experience. The planned elements appear to nicely engage consumers along their health management paths to remain healthy, get better, live vitally with a chronic condition or care for a loved one. (I believe these to be the four primary purposes for consumers to visit a drug store.)

I often speak of the advantages of brick-and-mortar and highlight the sensory aspects that are not available via an online shopping encounter. It appears that part of CVS’ vision is to create an environment that evokes sight and touch. I would think about ways to also involve smell, taste and sound. As CVS Health continues to evolve this re-imagined drug store, I would look for them to tap into all five senses. Healthcare is personal and an individual’s in-store shopping experience must be informative and emotive.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Drug stores, like all elements of the health services ecosystem, are focused on problem resolution and often the problem is best described with visual images, as is the solution. Visuals are highly instructional and easy to comprehend and the high resolution, color-correctness with video or animation takes the guided discussion to new levels. This application theme can carry consumers through the process of problem identification, options for resolution, product selection and action.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I’m bullish on this, assuming the self-help material is actually informative (as opposed to being a vendor-supported ad) and that it actually makes navigation simpler. Here in Atlanta, wherever there is a Walgreens you can be sure a CVS is very close by. Neither has ever been easy to shop — this could make a big difference. CVS may need to run some promotion to get shoppers into a newly designed store — don’t assume they’ll just wander in.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

And therein lies the rub, Stephen. Signage has only one purpose – to get you to buy something. I don’t think purely educational signage is possible in retail.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Ian — I partly agree — unbranded or CVS-branded signage is possible, although it will be interesting to see whether it does indeed help. Like stadiums, will a vendor want to sponsor it? And if so, does that reduce it’s effectiveness, becoming an ad rather than an aid?

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

The short answer? The employees sure aren’t capable of helping them, so self-serving makes sense. Also, I don’t think people are keen to share their personal health situation with floor personnel.

We’ve determined that one of the keys to a high-volume, low-touch environment like a chain drugstore (excluding the prescription area, obviously) is excellent signage.

So yes, I think they are on the right track.

Unlike Dick, I’m not a fan of CVS, but that’s more a pharmacy issue than it is a body-of-the-store issue. To me it’s the United Airlines of chain drugstores.

Al McClain
Staff

I’m with you, Paula. I think they are starting from a low point with regards to their current service levels. If they can’t hire more helpful store associates and pharmacy personnel, which seems to be the case based on store visits in several states over a number of years, redesigning the self service experience might be the next best thing. And, I couldn’t agree more with the idea that consumers don’t want to share their health issues with floor personnel, even if the internet has caused that information to be in a lot of unwanted places already.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

Health care continues to emphasize “self-care” and most insurance providers, retailers and providers to the health care industry have recognized that focusing on wellness can lower overall costs in the long-term. Consumers who seek to engage in wellness behaviors are bombarded with information that is often conflicting and confusing. Too much information may cause consumers to disengage from the wellness process.

CVS’s decision to include these information-centric display zones can help establish more trust between consumer and retailer. It also addresses the very personal nature of health care. Consumers generally prefer to research certain conditions with a level of privacy.

This new approach by CVS not only affords a level of privacy and personalization, but also presents a sustainable approach that transcends the high turnover of employees in their stores.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

I like the direction of moving to self-care versus sick-care. And there is nothing wrong with more information that gets the shopper to the “treasure” faster and with less hassle. The only thing is that each and every customer is on a different journey, so I hope CVS has its listening ears tuned up to help find what shoppers want, and perhaps enhance the program’s personalization.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Shopping is a journey that has both a specific destination politely interrupted by discovery and “surprise and delight.” CVS is using technology to help its shoppers make personal discoveries and hopefully unearth a personal treasure and deal along the way. Integrating a method and technology to ensure 100 percent visibility of at-shelf items to minimize out-of-stocks would further enhance this new design as well as ensuring that the shoppers can actually find and purchase their discoveries.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

As a loyal CVS shopper, the digital-first and connected mobile experience is evolving, yet the actual in-store shopping journey remains the same. The company needs to invest in transforming the store into a multi-sensory experience where there is a fully integrated platform full of self-help kiosks as well as mobile notifications as you go about your shopping.

A re-imagined pharmacy needs to jump aboard the health, holistic, organic lifestyle revolution. This is what the market is evolving into and CVS is lagging behind in this arena. The store design itself has remained the same for years, and it’s time for a new concept led by better branding and tighter assortments with the adage that “less is more.” The stores are overstocked, confusing and at times frustrating.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

I will always applaud CVS for dropping tobacco products! But to be honest, I can’t get my hands around what on earth this is all about. It’s hard to imagine what “discovery” I’d go to a pharmacy for. Another skin lotion? Batteries? A protein bar? A new way to take my blood pressure?

I had a pharmacy client years back that discovered it had many hundreds of different perfumes. About six of them were ever purchased. No new discoveries needed in that section!

And instead of a 6-foot by 3-foot sign telling me how to buy vitamins, save me a ton of time and have a section labelled “Good Vitamins” and another labelled “Useless Vitamins.” Let’s face it, if all the pointless, useless or unhealthy products were removed from CVS they could cut back on their footprint substantially. I can’t remember going into a pharmacy without a prescription in my hand and for that service I’m grateful to CVS.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Guest
Patricia Vekich Waldron
4 months 13 hours ago

I am hoping that CVS’s new app will replace the yards of receipt tape they generate for each transaction!

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Great move. Customers who are used to copious amounts of information while shopping online find it jarring to have very little information in the store itself. Another issue is the microscopic type on small containers (like makeup). If screens are cost-effective, the new store will attract more business.

Sky Rota
Guest
4 months 13 hours ago

I forgot CVS was a pharmacy because we don’t get our medicine there but we get everything else there. I don’t love going in stores, I usually wait in the car, but I always go in CVS. Our CVS looks very high-end since they fixed it up but not too high end. Their displays are lit up and look inviting and I like the short mini-isles. Things are easy to find now. Last night I bought water balloons for a project I am doing. They carry pretty much everything you want. They are our corner store. Oh, I agree with Ms. Vekich Waldron — what is with the 50-yard-long receipt? Not very environmentally friendly. It goes right in the trash. I don’t do coupons unless I can just put in my cell number.

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust

My hope is that the signage actually provides customers with valuable information instead of just stating the obvious. I’ve said before on RetailWire that it’s an education economy out there — information carries a value of its own and is a great draw to get customers into the store.

With that said, customers have varying levels of education regarding health and nutrition and each customer has their own individual health needs. One sign doesn’t appeal to all in this case. Some of us are diabetic, gluten-free or just apathetic. As a vegan, I won’t go to a store telling me to buy fish oil. The message is too nondescript: Personalized marketing would go a lot farther than generalized signage.

Dave Nixon
Guest
Dave Nixon
4 months 13 hours ago

Yes it does. It provides an opportunity for making people’s lives better by helping them make more informed decisions.

Now add near-field capabilities and push the content to loyal shoppers’ apps for later reference. As you learn more about loyal shopper behaviors, in-store content could be personalized based on needs. Seamless integration of in-store signage and content, and tying it to shopper engagement, is where retailers will win over online and other brands.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The main requirement of any store layout, IMHO, is the ability to quickly find what you want, which by inference means not changing the layout too drastically … or too often. This sounds more like tweaking, which is fine, I guess, I’m assuming they have some research to support their moves. But I’m skeptical someone’s going to discover some magical design 150 years into modern retailing. Large signage can make things more visible, but also more cluttered; more info can be helpful, or it can be overwhelming.

Julie Bernard
BrainTrust
Overall, the CVS game-plan makes sense, yet incorporating enhanced signage and digital experiences into a store environment are not new ideas — for CVS or any retailer. The measure of success will be in the execution. Is it meaningful enough? Does it feel like an ad or is it authentic in its mission to help the consumer care for themselves in a proactive way?  And while mobile shoppers say signage, kiosks, and the in-store digital conversation are important factors (especially for Millennials and Gen Z) innovating around the mobile device to drive in-store experiences is even more crucial. Mobile is the pathway for inspiring new discoveries. This dovetails with the kind of education-forward effort that CVS is undertaking. The key is to not confine that interaction to moments when consumers approach a kiosk or look to fixtures for information; those are long-standing approaches. Being proactive and reaching the shopper via mobile screens will count for a lot, and then linking those new digital conversations to an in-person interaction that evolves organically from the screen to a human-to-human moment will count for even more. It all has to work together, and it all has to represent innovation. Secondly, CVS will be well served… Read more »
Scott Magids
BrainTrust
4 months 8 hours ago

Adding more self help and educational details is exactly in line with what consumers are looking for. We are in the information age – and consumers are making more informed decisions based on their own research. CVS is on target in using these tools to enhance the shopping journey.

One thing to consider though, is the shopping journey doesn’t begin at the store. More often than not it starts at home, on the Internet. While those in-store displays may prove useful, CVS’s initiative has to start online, with more items like branded content, or brand journalism sites like Kroger’s KrogerStories.com or Lowe’s how-to video center. The combination of online and in-store educational tools will help CVS win more hearts and minds, and forge a much tighter connection with its audience.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"As CVS Health continues to evolve this re-imagined drug store, I would look for them to tap into all five senses."
"My hope is that the signage actually provides customers with valuable information instead of just stating the obvious."
"...to be honest, I can’t get my hands around what on earth this is all about. It’s hard to imagine what “discovery” I’d go to a pharmacy for."

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