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Kroger, Walgreens expand retail pilot with more locations, new feature

A grocery and drugstore giant are providing customers with access to each other’s products.

Building on an exploratory store pilot that launched at 13 Walgreens stores in northern Kentucky in October 2018, The Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance will expand the availability of a dedicated in-store section of Kroger grocery items and Kroger’s buy-online-pickup-in-store service to additional Walgreens locations. In a new feature, the pilot expansion will also include the launch of a section in select Kroger stores dedicated to Walgreens’ private-label health and beauty brands.

The grocery section, called Kroger Express, will be rolled out to 35 Walgreens stores in the Knoxville, Tenn., area in the fall. The assortment, which will vary by location, will include a curated selection of the grocer’s private label and national brand products, ranging from fresh meat, produce and dairy, to frozen foods, shelf-stable products and Kroger Home Chef meal solutions. Most locations will feature the full assortment, with up to 2,700 products, while other stores will average 2,300 items.

Most of the Walgreens pilot stores will also offer Kroger Pickup, enabling shoppers to place a digital order online or through the Kroger app for curbside pickup at the participating location.

As part of the partnership between the two retailers, 17 Kroger stores in the Knoxville area will feature a curated selection of Walgreens’ private label health and beauty products. The featured categories will include beauty, personal care, over-the-counter medications and wellness.

"Walgreens customers have responded very favorably to the Kroger Express pilot in northern Kentucky,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “As a result, we're exploring more ways to offer customers an enhanced, more convenient shopping experience. Working with Kroger, we're continuing to re-invent our customer offer to meet shoppers' evolving needs, which includes offering private-label grocery and health products at a great value, through an integrated omnichannel experience."

Launching the original pilot in northern Kentucky allowed Kroger and Walgreens to test-and-learn in a retail setting and source customer feedback and insights, which the companies say allowed them to create a more informed expansion decision. The pilot in Knoxville is a continuation of the test-and-learn approach, and both retailers will continue to assess customer response.
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