Can retailers be healthcare disruptors?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.
For minor health conditions and “everyday” healthcare, retailers are turning the tables. In-store clinics are rewriting the rules on how to deliver consumer-centered healthcare that is:
- Cheaper to build and operate;
- More accessible and convenient.
Yet, by fully integrating these services into their holistic physical and digital shopping experiences, retailers have an opportunity to become an even greater force.
For retailers, becoming a “primary care” option of choice creates an entirely different dynamic in the consumer/shopper relationship with the store and the retailer’s brand, creating completely new visit patterns, trip drivers and need states. Taking advantage of a huge and growing health opportunity, the relationship with retailers and brands has the potential to:
- Create destination or “statement” offerings in health-related categories;
- Activate categories adjacent to health services, especially conditions being actively managed (allergies, digestion problems, diabetes, etc.) in concert with clinic visits;
- Add new health services and other categories (e.g., Costco’s expansion and space dedicated to hearing aids);
- Strengthen wellness (not just treatment) offerings in store to take advantage of the massive attitudinal movement to illness prevention and toward active lifestyles;
- Tap emerging technologies to support new personalization models. Diagnostic information from apps and wearables, personal health data and even remote telehealth services (where specialists offer consultation from a remote location) offer new ways of thinking about the overall consumer experience.
Regardless, the medical industry will not sit idly by while retailers invade their turf. They’re rapidly opening facilities in smaller, more convenient locations or moving into retail spaces in strip centers and malls (some, ironically, left vacant by retail closures). They’re even creating “chain” medical brands such as One Medical and Great Expressions (dental care). An epic battle of massive industry players is on the horizon.
To me, however, this feels like a tipping point for retailers — an opportunity to provide better customer experiences in the health and wellness space at a time when our population is aging, Millennials are establishing families and all ages are expecting more. It’s a battle for a new generation of patients. Time to gear up.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is retail well positioned to offer solutions for many of healthcare’s challenges in the years ahead? What factors will work for and against retailers when it comes to gaining greater traction in providing healthcare?