Costco and Instacart are said to be piloting fast delivery of prescription drugs on the West Coast.
According to CNBC, the discount club retailer is testing one-hour delivery of prescribed medication to members in California and Washington state via Instacart. Delivery is free for orders of more than $35, not including the 5% tip set by Instacart. For smaller orders, price will vary by how fast members want drugs delivered (one-hour is the quickest delivery time), but deliveries will generally cost less than $10. Members receive delivery updates via text message.
Instacart delivery personnel must be certified for HIPAA regulations regarding privacy for healthcare patients, and also ask for identification before dropping off a drug delivery. Delivery customers can opt for a phone consultation with a Costco pharmacist. At online checkout, customers must confirm their date of birth and that they are 18 or older.
Costco and Instacart have not yet publicly commented. However, Arielle Trzcnski, a senior healthcare analyst at Forrester Research, offered Chain Store Age commentary on the pilot program.
“Costco has thrown their hat into an already crowded healthcare race,” said Trzcnski. “Costco joins Walmart in offering healthcare support to bulk store members by offering free prescription delivery. This week, CVS made its first prescription deliveries by drone. This is a race to see who can deliver a service that will stick. Retailers are still in search of what the right delivery model looks like and very much in test and see mode.”
Trzcnski added that while Costco’s delivery offering may signal a bigger jump into healthcare, by itself it will not be enough to members away from the healthcare offerings of competitors such as Sam’s Club.