Drug Store Battles Won With Mobile

Elizabeth Huebner Over the weekend, I realized that my prescription was about to run out and I needed my doctor call in a new one to cover another year. It’s always a frustrating process filled with automatic voice menus, long wait times and other obstacles. This time around however, my call was a little different given the Pharmacist asked if I wanted to receive an SMS update when my prescription was ready or when I was in need or a refill in the future. Brilliant, I thought, one step closer to making the re-fill process more convenient in the future.
I soon remembered Rite Aid launching this program back in 2010, but I learned about it from industry publications – not from store itself. The question quickly became, how was I as a loyal pharmacy customer not made aware of the SMS notification via marketing or store employees until 2012?

The first reason could potentially be because the program lacked effective in-store marketing support. The second reason could be because RiteAid.com was not relevant to me. Anytime I needed a refill, a quick Google search returned the closest location with click-to-call functionality. So, almost 2 years later Rite Aid started to become digitally relevant in my mind.

Rite Aid needs to rise to the next level to continue to retain me as a customer. I’ve been monitoring Walgreen’s successful multi-channel loyalty strategy over the past year. They’ve continuously provided their customers with choice, control and convenience via the mobile channel through tactics such as mobile and iPad apps, text alerts, mobile Web and video. These choices are all beautifully promoted and tied together, continuing to help drive conversions, while reducing exposure to switching. They entered into the digital space with their on-line and mobile prescription refill service and have evolved to continue to manage health and loyalty through the mobile channel. The most recent update announced this week is the pill reminder function that sends push notifications to remind customers when to take their prescriptions, which can be hourly, daily, weekly monthly on specific dates or more. By continuously adding additional tethers to their customers through these multi-channel programs, they make it very challenging for a switch to occur.

In today’s digital world, brands need to ensure they are offering customers both choice and control, or else the reasons to be loyal and return start to dwindle. For Rite Aid, it may have started with an SMS program, but developing those additional tethers will be critical or else I will continue to search for other options that provide more convenience.

Here at Knotice, we work with our customers to deliver an exquisite tactical execution like Walgreens has. These executions should have bigger business implications and drive benefit for layers of a business. For example, as mentioned earlier the more positive experiences that are created, the risk for switching dwindles. Perhaps an even bigger business implication associated is the high margin, low thought aspect of what happens when consumers continue to visit in-store. Both brands make huge margins on the little extras and conveniences consumers pick up when in-store – such as buying a birthday card, picking up a trinket, nail file, bottle of water, balloon, etc. But lately, stores like Walgreens have been incorporating location-based services to promote specials on larger stock-up items. So, though the introduction and refinement of their pharmacy program, Walgreens has found ways to capture more business on other fronts. Perhaps most importantly, through their seamless cross-channel mobile experiences, they will have a much easier time introducing future technology innovations. Mobile payments anyone?

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