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Focus on: Mobile Retailing


By many accounts, Walgreens is already a mobile retailing veteran. But eager to keep its service exciting and valuable, the drug store chain recently added a new product-mapping service within its mobile strategy.

Walgreens began its mobile journey in September 2009, when it launched an app designed to “improve the way our customers interact with us,” explained Tim McCauley, senior director, mobile commerce for Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens.

The services supported by the app include electronic prescription refills, access to prescription histories, the ability to order photo prints, a store locator, access to the chain’s weekly ad, the ability to browse merchandise and check stock availability, and browse and pay for orders.

Such robust functionality has consistently placed the Walgreens app among the top 50 free apps downloaded through Apple’s iTunes Store. Building off of this excitement, the chain was ready to add a new dimension of functionality, one that further improved the in-store experience. For Walgreens, this translated into a product-mapping component.

“Initially, our app helped users navigate the shopping experience outside the store,” McCauley said. “As consumers begin to enter the store with their device, we needed to deliver more value, relevance and excitement to their shopping experience. The mapping offering does this.”

McCauley expects the service to help customers build shopping lists prior to visiting stores, and easily navigate aisles once they enter.

“It helps them preplan their trip, and then make the visit a better experience once they get there,” he explained. “We need to provide services that remind shoppers what’s on sale, and help them find what they want.”

Walgreens required a solution that could deliver easy navigation, scalability and the flexibility needed to support its breadth and expansion plans. The chain partnered with St. Louis-based aisle411 based on its robust, customer-friendly display and its seamless integration with its mobile app.

Walgreens provided aisle411 with formatted product mapping data, customized for each store. As shoppers launch the Walgreens app, they choose the store locator icon, select their desired location and then choose the store maps icon, which connects them to a store-specific schematic, complete with labeled aisles. Users can build shopping lists either by adding items from the weekly ad or manually entering them. The map directs shoppers to where they reside in their chosen store.

Since launching the mapping software in July, Walgreens’ customer and employee feedback has helped the company make additional enhancements, including creating more streamlined lists and simpler mapping.

“[When we make] product searches and mapping operations easier, the shopper experience improves,” McCauley said. “We hope to further streamline functionality in time for the holidays.”

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