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How Walgreens leveraged mobile, digital to build 72M member loyalty program

By
June 27, 2013

NEW YORK – A Walgreens executive at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East said that the retailer has acquired 72 million loyalty members in the past nine months by focusing on mobile and digital as key components to an omnichannel approach.

During the “Walgreens: At The Corner Of Experience And Innovation” session, the executive spoke about the ways that the company is embracing an omnichannel tactics to bridge retail, pharmacy and wellness services. Additionally, the exec revealed some findings on the company’s digital and mobile traffic.

“We launched this program last year with a very clear and intense view about this being an omnichannel product that was designed to show off, showcase and tee-off our assets right across the enterprise,” said Graham Atkinson, senior vice president and chief marketing and customer experience officer at Walgreens, Deerfield, IL.

“From the get-go, we wanted this to be omnichannel, we wanted people to be able to sign-up very easily either in-store, which takes about 30 seconds, or online at home or indeed from people’s mobile devices,” he said. “Over nine months, [there are] over 70 million people and not a single piece of paper.”

Secret sauce to loyalty
Walgreens launched its Rewards loyalty program nine months ago with an omnichannel focus.

The program allows consumers to earn points across the company’s suite of assets from in-store, online or from a mobile device.

Additionally, Walgreens has built some aspects that incorporate health into the program as a way to both acquire and retain loyalty program members.

For example, Walgreens ran a program called Steps that encouraged consumers to get and stay fit. Steps was integrated into the Rewards loyalty program so that app users could connect their walking and running activity to their rewards as well as exchange ideas with the brand’s program.

For every prescription that Rewards program users make, they receive points. The idea here is to pull Walgreens’ DNA into the program that incentives people to get and remain healthy.

The third element in the program’s success is a chat function that lets consumers contact a Walgreens pharmacist 24/7 with any questions on their medication or general health. This feature will soon be rolled out to the company’s app, per Mr. Atkinson.

Digital health care
Walgreens has roughly two million daily digital visits with nine Web sites and ten mobile applications.

Interestingly, half of Walgreens’ traffic from smartphones and tablets occurs when consumers are in-store, which points to the need to hook up multiple interactions that consumers have into one experience.

Mr. Atkinson said that consumers think about Walgreens as an entity, not as a channel.

Essentially, retailers need to think holistically about the customer’s journey to be successful nowadays.

Additionally, simplifying the channels and being able to measure across different mediums is critical.

The smartphone forces Walgreens to think about limited real estate. When marketers decide to push one more thing into an ad, it leads to consumers thinking that the experience is too complicated.

For example, Walgreens has a service called transfer by scan built into its mobile app. Consumers can change a repeat prescription to a different pharmacy through taking a picture of the pill bottle and emailing it to the company. This is a process that traditionally requires eight to ten steps.

“Whether it is home delivery, whether it’s in-store, whether it’s comparison pricing, whether it’s showrooming at home and then going in-store – which is somewhat counter-intuitive to the common retail focus– we see this as something that is very much about understanding the touch points that the company goes through,” Mr. Atkinson said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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