Walgreens reinvents its loyalty program, launches 30-minute pickup service

Photo: Walgreens
Nov 20, 2020
George Anderson

Walgreens announced a complete reinvention of its customer loyalty program yesterday. What that means for its business remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the drugstore giant doesn’t plan to just sit by as Amazon.com and others vie for market share that Walgreens currently holds.

The launch of myWalgreens provides new and expanded benefits to the chain’s more than 100 million members shopping at its 9,000+ stores across the U.S. and online. Among the changes are a redesigned mobile app for health and wellness items that can now be picked up in-store, curbside or through local pharmacy’s drive-through in as few as 30 minutes.

The retailer also offers home delivery through DoorDash and Postmates, and its Prescription Savings Club promises savings up to 80 percent off.

Membership in myWalgreens is free and includes one percent Walgreens Cash rewards for purchases made storewide and five percent for the chain’s private labels. Program members will have access to exclusive “Only for you” deals, as well.

The chain’s redesigned app includes a broad range of health and wellness services, including 24/7 pharmacy chat, the ability to book medical care and vaccination appointments, personalized health advice and more. Walgreens’ previous version of the app has been downloaded more than 65 million times, according to the retailer.

“Walgreens is delivering an unparalleled experience to help customers and patients manage their health and wellbeing during the most severe health crisis of our lifetimes,” said John Standley, Walgreens president, in a statement. “As always, our more than 25,000 community pharmacists remain at the core of our offering. Our pharmacists and patient care teams do far more than just filling prescriptions — they provide trusted advice, personalized support and a vast range of services.”

Current Walgreens Balance Rewards members can transfer their membership and reward points to myWalgreens at mywalgreens.com. The retailer promised to announce more benefits in the coming months.

Amazon announced earlier this week the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, a new online pharmacy that offers free unlimited two-day deliveries of prescriptions filled by Amazon and lower prices (up to 40 percent off brand name; 80 percent off generic medications) for members who do not have health insurance. The e-tailing giant is also touting a network of over 50,000 pharmacies participating in the program across the U.S., as well.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the introduction of myWalgreens and 30-minute pickup be a competitive difference maker for the retailer? Where do you see the biggest opportunities and challenges for Walgreens going forward?

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15 Comments on "Walgreens reinvents its loyalty program, launches 30-minute pickup service"

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Gene Detroyer

It all sounds too complicated to me.

Lee Peterson

This is such a “duh,” especially given the fact that almost every one of their units already has a drive-thru. You have to ask, what took you so long? Even COVID-19 didn’t move them to take advantage of their own assets. Wow, say hello to Amazon Pharma.

Jeff Weidauer

So far the attempts by Walgreens to operate loyalty programs that provide value and create loyalty have fallen flat with customers. They have been too complex with minimal perceived value to the shopper. This latest salvo isn’t likely to improve on that record.

Richard Hernandez

Wow – lots of words and promises. I like my CVS program – it’s easy, I get deals tailored me, and I can use them with no problem…

Dave Bruno

There are a few interesting items in this new program to be sure, but the one “Easter egg” lurking in the announcement is the ability to set vaccination appointments through the app. During normal times, this feature is nothing of real interest. However in the coming months when 350 million Americans will (hopefully) be clamoring for vaccinations, this feature could be a game-changer, if – and this is a huge if – it actually works at scale. I’m converting my account as we speak to be sure I can follow their progress, and will be in line for the vaccination appointments when they are offered!

Joel Goldstein

As the world becomes more convenience-driven, this makes sense from a customer view. The reason Amazon was able to build such a huge share of online sales was the fulfillment speed. The same comes with convenience stores likes Walgreens. It’s time to pick up the pace all around to stay relevant.

David Biernbaum

I do understand the reasons for skepticism with regards to the complexities of the new program, however it is otherwise hard to find fault with. The DoorDash component and the app’s capability for pre-scheduling vaccines are timely. I don’t know that there will be a significant shift in the competitive prescription arena, however some of these new features might help to increase compliance. The true benefit will be the lift this is likely to give to front end, OTC, and other consumer products. Some of the cost of this new program is being passed along to suppliers, so I think we all should try hard to make it work well for everyone involved.

4 months 25 days ago

They don’t need a loyalty program for pre-scheduling of vaccines via the app. That could have been done without the app. Many folks who need vaccines will not be using Walgreens app (or any app for that matter).

Ryan Mathews

To paraphrase Thoreau, “Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!” If this is the best they can come up with they are in serious trouble.

Sterling Hawkins

This story, beginning, middle and end, all revolve around effective use of customer data. The data should drive what rewards are offered, how they’re offered, who they’re offered to and even where new stores are located. Thirty-minute pickup alone isn’t a game-changer and based on the complexity of the program they have some work to do. Walgreens has a real asset in their customers and the associated data — they just have to use it.

Rachelle King

How many times has Walgreens “reinvented” their rewards program? How many customers are confused, as in previous iterations, as to what happened to their old rewards? Yes, applause for continuous improvement, but these routine overhauls must have some wear and tear on customer patience and loyalty.

I hear a bit of Rite Aid in here with the 1% and 5% rewards. I hear a bit of CVS in the amplifying curbside-pick. This revamped program will keep them competitive among peers but may be a stretch in the Amazon realm. The one thing they can do is see how long they can go before feeling like this new shiny object is dull and needs to be replaced. Again.

4 months 25 days ago

Rite Aid doesn’t have any 1% or 5% rewards. CVS has a 1% reward thing. But Walgreens had this before too, only called it points. Rite Aid’s program was spend a certain amount over a calendar year ($500 or $1,000), get a 10% or 20% off all regular prices for a year thing, but they are changing the program after this year so who knows what it will look like? At one time they would give you a 10% off coupon after you spent $100 or something, but they stopped that.

Doug Garnett

Amazon’s vaunted prescription service announcement may NOT be much of a problem for Walgreens. There’s no guarantee it’s going to be important to customers — and I’m just not seeing much customer value in it.

This seems a smart announcement by Walgreen’s to fight the public perception that the Amazon PR prestidigitation has caused. And I don’t think they’re facing any “disruptive force” in the Amazon announcement. Amazon’s announcement likely has far less substance that it appears on the surface.

Chuck Ehredt
Having lived in Europe for the past 17 years, I can’t proclaim much first-hand experience with the Walgreens App or loyalty program, but for some reason I end up in a Walgreens on every trip back to the US — so they have a degree of my loyalty by being present and dependable. I remember the case study of Walgreens in Good to Great — where they perfected their flywheel and made a mint BECAUSE they delivered convenience to customers. I see these new announcements as a positive and hope the team can deliver. If there have been a lot of false promises in the past, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they get it right this time. Walgreens has certainly earned a great deal of loyalty from millions of people — even if not because of the loyalty program. Of course, with their frequency, the gold will be in the data — which creates the opportunity to really personalize engagement. Imagine what insight they could obtain about customers by collaborating with… Read more »
4 months 25 days ago
This Walgreens loyalty program is basically the same exact loyalty program they had before except certain benefits were replaced with less generous benefits. Just instead of marketing it as “points” they are marketing it as “cash.” You still have to redeem in set increments ($1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $10) just like before with the points. No change there. There used to be a benefit of spend $50 on Cosmetics/Personal Care get $5 back — that is gone now. It kind of seems like they want to be Target Circle, but they aren’t even close. Oh and Target Circle lets you redeem even one cent worth of your points. In other words you can just go to Target Circle and turn redemption on at all times and you will just redeem anytime you shop there automatically by inputting the card or phone number. Walgreens loyalty program continues to be by far the worst loyalty program of the drugstore chains. CVS is clearly the best with a steady stream of many offers, clearly personalized, and just… Read more »

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