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CVS Health, Walgreens talk customer engagement — online and off

Marcy Brewington
Marcy Brewington

Customer engagement is a hot topic in retail today as chains across the board struggle with how to better engage with shoppers amid today’s disruptive environment. Two retail giants — CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance — provided interesting insights into how they are working to improve communications and get more personal with shoppers in a presentation at the 2019 Path to Purchase Expo (P2PX) in Chicago. Here’s my takeaway: 

In a digital age, CVS realizes that stores still matter — a lot. To that end, the company is embarking on a full redesign of in-store signage for its 9,000 stores nationwide, Marcy Brewington, CVS’ director of in-store marketing told the crowd at P2PX. The update will be rolled out slowly — planogram by planogram — and be completed by the end of 2020. Assisting CVS in the initiative is Arc Worldwide.

Brewington noted she was “going old school” with a presentation about in-store signage. And she was right. But the fact is the majority of retail sales still occur in physical stores and signage remains one of a store’s most critical elements — something that many retailers seem to have forgotten. Brewington also hit on an important point, noting that the motivation for the new in-store initiative is the same as it would be for a digital engagement one: “How do we enhance the shopper experience?” As to why the company was taking on the refresh, studies showed that CVS shoppers were overwhelmed with store signage and missing the relevant messaging. The new signage will focus on enabling customers to find what they quickly, which is key to an improved store shopping experience. Here’s hoping other retailers take note and look at their own in-store communications. 

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While CVS focused its remarks on physical stores, Walgreens talked more about digital strategies — a reflection on how retailers must juggle online and offline customer engagement initiatives. Sharing the stage with Brewington at P2PX was Alyssa Raine, divisional VP, brand marketing and creative, Walgreens, who discussed the company’s online personalization strategy and its mobile app. The app is tied into its 90-million-member loyalty program, the largest in the U.S., with a whopping 90 million members. To emphasize the personal point, Raines discussed how the retailer created 400 different digital videos for flu shot season, each tailored around a different shopper motivation, seasonal context and geographical area. It was a fascinating look into how Walgreens is working to get more personal with its shoppers.

Read more on the CVS and Walgreens presentation at P2PX, here. The Path to Purchase Expo continues through Nov. 14. The Path to Purchase Institute is owned by EnsembleIQ, the parent company Chain Store Age.

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