Walgreens says new small-format retailer personalizes care, might assist in ‘pharmacy deserts’

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Walgreen Shops in Lexington Park, MD.

Supply: Walgreens

Walgreens has rolled out a brand new form of retailer that shrinks down its sq. footage and focuses on the pharmacy.

Count on to see fewer front-of-store objects, a slimmed down choice of over-the-counter drugs and an emphasis on relationships between pharmacists and clients.

It has opened greater than 30 small-format pharmacies as a part of a pilot, and it might open extra relying on how they carry out. Inside the corporate, the challenge was dubbed “Cooper” — a reference to the Mini Cooper, a small BMW car with a cult following.  

Walgreens Boots Alliance is testing new approaches as its competitors grows. Gross sales in fiscal 2019 rose 4.1% to $136.9 billion, however adjusted earnings per share fell 0.5%. 

Together with feeling the warmth from CVS Health and different drugstores, Walmart and Amazon are each increasing their well being care focus. Walmart has opened 4 clinics that provide a broad array of providers at a low value, together with major care and dental care, along with the pharmacies it has at a lot of its big-box shops. Amazon bought PillPack two years ago, laying the inspiration for the corporate to broaden into pharmacy.

Walgreens is balancing its funding with cost-cutting efforts which have included layoffs and lots of of retailer closures. Shares of Walgreens, which have a market worth of $36.7 billion, are down 29% for the reason that begin of the 12 months. The corporate’s drugstores initially noticed a sales surge during the pandemic, as folks stocked up on necessities and prescriptions, however that dropped off with stay-at-home orders.

Walgreens has turned a few of its greater than 9,200 U.S. shops into “neighborhood well being locations” — a time period it makes use of to explain places with well being care providers together with a pharmacy. In some shops, it rents area to diagnostics firm LabCorp, optical firm For Eyes and weight reduction firm Jenny Craig. It has 14 places that provide major care by way of agreements with third-party firms, resembling Village MD. Greater than 230 of Walgreens’ shops have clinics run and staffed with a nurse practitioner from a well being system.

Walgreens’ group vp of pharmacy operations Rina Shah stated the corporate needed to maneuver away from a “one-size-fits-all method” and tailor retailer choices extra to a group and close by clients. 

She stated the small-format pharmacy was impressed partially by Walgreens shops close to well being care techniques which are smaller in measurement and cater to clients selecting up treatment after getting discharged from the hospital.

In early 2019, it started testing the small-format pharmacies. It now has the shops in a wide range of small cities and huge cities throughout the nation, together with Cellular, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; Schenectady, New York; Bethesda, Maryland; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Slimmed down choice

Small-format pharmacies are a few quarter of the scale of the Walgreens’ typical retailer, which common about 13,500 sq. toes. The shops have a extra open idea and get every day deliveries, so it has much less inventory within the again.

Inside shops, clients will not discover the standard huge choice. As a substitute, they’re going to discover a sharper give attention to well being and wellness merchandise like nutritional vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, thermometers and Band-Aids, Shah stated.

She stated it is modified the combo of merchandise, relying on what clients need. For instance, at one retailer, it expanded the part of cough and chilly drugs. Shops have a restricted assortment of drinks in a small cooler and meals, with most choices geared in the direction of wholesome choices like bottled water, veggie chips, peanuts, pretzels and popcorn.

Walgreens retailer in Winston-Salem.

Supply: Walgreens

Pharmacy focus

Pharmacists play a central position within the new form of retailer — and Walgreens hopes that customized care will in the end result in higher well being outcomes, Shah stated. 

She stated the corporate sees the smaller shops as a spot the place extra folks can have one-on-one conversations with pharmacists, notably these taking a number of drugs or with advanced and persistent situations. 

“These shops are actually supposed to offer a high-touch expertise, and even a handy expertise, to our sufferers in a unique capability than doubtlessly a really busy 24-hour location the place persons are coming out and in,” she stated.

To date, she stated Walgreens has gotten constructive suggestions from sufferers and docs concerning the “hands-on method.” She stated it is observed early indicators this fashion has elevated affected person adherence, or the quantity of people that comply with medical recommendation and take their prescription accurately.

Together with filling prescriptions, the pharmacies additionally supply vaccinations just like the flu shot, she stated. 

A Walgreens retailer in Houston, TX.

Supply: Walgreens

Drive-thru choice

Like many different Walgreens shops, the vast majority of the small-format pharmacies have a drive-thru the place clients can zip by way of and decide up objects as a substitute of parking and coming inside. That choice has gained reputation throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Shah stated. 

Nearly all of Walgreens’ shops within the U.S. have drive-thrus.

Walgreen Shops in Lexington Park, MD.

Supply: Walgreens

Reply to ‘pharmacy deserts’?

Shah stated the corporate is testing the small-format pharmacies in numerous places, together with city, suburban and rural areas. At the same time as folks order prescriptions on-line or get them delivered to their door, Shah stated brick-and-mortar places nonetheless play an essential position. 

“The worth of pharmacy just isn’t a lot the prescription that you just take,” she stated. “It is understanding methods to take the treatment, what uncomfortable side effects that you must handle after which in the end, how do you handle your illness going ahead.

The corporate considers a wide range of components when deciding the place to open the shops, resembling whether or not there is a want for extra pharmacies and larger well being care entry, Shah stated. 

“Each buyer and each market is a bit of completely different, so we’re simply trying to perceive precisely the place would this match,” she stated. These embody “pharmacy deserts,” the place clients haven’t got a close-by place to choose up prescriptions.

“That is an surroundings the place a small-format pharmacy could slot in very well, ” she stated.



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