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10/27/2022

Walgreens pilots 30-minute guarantee for in-store pickup

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walgreens curbside
Walgreens is testing a refund program for late in-store pickup orders.

Walgreens is making a big commitment to having online orders prepared for in-store pickup in 30 minutes or less.

At stores across New Mexico, Oklahoma, and select Texas markets including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and North and Western Texas, the drugstore giant is guaranteeing that online pickup orders made through its e-commerce site or consumer app will be ready in 30 minutes or less, or they will be free.

Walgreens is offering a refund of up to $50 for late pickup orders through January 31, 2023. To be eligible, customers must have received a “ready” notification at least 31 minutes past the time their order was placed based on the Walgreens clock. Refunds are not eligible for gift cards, alcohol, Rx or Rx portion of combined pickup orders, and photo or photo portion of combined Pickup orders.

Walgreens leverages inventory management, localized search
The company is testing this guarantee as it supports fast pickup with advanced inventory management and artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital search capabilities. During the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walgreens stores remained open. However, given the sudden sharp increase in customer usage of omnichannel shopping features, such as buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup, the retailer realized it needed to accelerate having more advanced algorithms and capabilities to support these offerings.

One solution Walgreens turned to is Blue Yonder inventory management technology, which is part of the supply chain management solutions company’s order management solutions (OMS) suite.

“What the customer sees or the employee is picking hasn’t changed,” Brian Amend, senior director, supply chain systems, Walgreens, said in an exclusive interview with Chain Store Age. “The algorithms behind it and the decisions on where to get inventory are better, but the process has not changed.”

Amend also said that having more accurate inventory available to promise also enables Walgreens to be store-agnostic in its basket search. If a store doesn’t have a specific item a customer placing an omnichannel order wants, another nearby store may be able to fulfill it.

Walgreens is also leveraging the Algolia artificial intelligence (AI)-based search and discovery solution to help shoppers find relevant items available locally for in-store pickup.

“The implementation of Algolia has allowed Walgreens to analyze customer behavior and react to customer needs in real-time,” Lindsay Mikos, senior director of omnichannel strategy and programs for Walgreens, said in a separate exclusive interview. “Customers using our contactless 30-minute curbside and same-day delivery services are often in a hurry to get the product they need easily. Search is a critical tool to help customers easily and quickly find the products they need so they can place their order and be on their way.”

Based in Deerfield, Ill., Walgreens Boots Alliance is an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail company with approximately 13,000 locations across the U.S., Europe and Latin America. It operates in nine countries through its portfolio of consumer brands: Walgreens, Boots, Duane Reade, the No7 Beauty Company, Benavides in Mexico and Ahumada in Chile. Additionally, Walgreens Boots Alliance has a portfolio of healthcare-focused investments located in several countries, including China and the U.S.