How is Walgreens getting older shoppers to use its mobile app?

Source: Walgreens
Jul 12, 2017

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Walgreens has managed to leverage its mobile app to encourage usage from a generation that is elusive for many retailers: the 55-and-up crowd.

More than 20 percent of the pharmacy’s app users are age 55 and older, more than twice the industry average. As mobile commerce and mobile app usage continue to grow, brands need to design the experience for older consumers that may not be as savvy with the technology.

“The big goal for us is always about removing friction,” said Benjamin Weiss, ‎mobile product manager at Walgreens, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Mobile experiences are often a little harder than they should be.

For example, when the Walgreens mobile development team creates “tap targets” within the app, they make sure to widen the sensitivity area for each button so that users can still tap through even if their clicking isn’t precise.

The brand has built in various feature enhancements designed to better meet the needs and interests of these users, including:

  • Support of TouchID and secure auto-login, addressing a key obstacle for users who struggle to remember or locate user credentials — a greater challenge for less frequent users of such apps;
  • Simplified menus, also welcomed by infrequent mobile app users unfamiliar with conventions that become familiar with use;
  • A Pill Reminder feature designed to help older adults and seniors who are more likely to have multiple daily dosages to manage;
  • Support for smartphones that offer font size options for apps
  • Balance Rewards for healthy choices that gives users shopper loyalty points if they use the app to track walking, cycling, weight management, blood pressure, etc.

Pill Reminder and Refill by Scan are two app features particularly used by those 55 and older.

Mr. Weiss said although brand consistency is important in creating apps, Walgreens focuses more on platform consistency to make sure the patterns and conventions, buttons and styles are intrinsic to iOS and Android. He said, “When the consumer comes to your app, you don’t want them to relearn … you want them to use what’s already familiar.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think are the main challenges for older consumers who use retailer apps? Which of the features in Walgreens app seem transferable to other retailers looking to secure more adoption from the 55 and older set?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Walgreens really needs a program like this. But this is a good lesson for other types of retailers, too."
"Walgreens is succeeding by thinking beyond their own immediate interests."
"Designing the app to appeal to their customers no matter the customer’s age is a great move."

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7 Comments on "How is Walgreens getting older shoppers to use its mobile app?"

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Art Suriano

I like this idea. Older people struggle with weaker eyesight and sometimes coordination, not to mention the learning curve with new technology. It is easy for anyone to become frustrated when they feel they are out of their element. Designing an app for senior citizens and making it easier for older customers is brilliant and many other retailers can apply this as well. I would expect this concept to become more familiar over the next couple of years with many apps having an option — something as simple as the customer choosing which design they prefer when first logging on after downloading the app.

Bob Amster

It’s a real challenge. The app has to be very intuitive and not ‘slick.” Older people are not wowed by slick, they want it clear and simple. There are some who will never come around and will want to talk to a human. Features that are transferable to other retail apps are touch ID, larger fonts, simplified menus and easy-to-redeem rewards (many in this group may be retired and living on limited finances). A lot of this is about human engineering and psychology.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

The mobile hurdle for the aging demographic is its transition from phone/text to mobile/app access. The device has an appeal when it is used as a reminder pad for lists, for contact information, as a calendar and for timed alerts. So as Walgreens helps their customers apply a smartphone as reminder pad, they are enabling ease and success in life while also creating a path to the Walgreens brand. Walgreens is succeeding by thinking beyond their own immediate interests.

Roy White

It’s true that many of the 55-and-up crowd are hesitant in embracing new technology, and that a major retailer has specifically put together a program to make such technology easier to use and thus prompt greater usage is a highly positive development. Mobile payment is now an inevitability, and Walgreens is leading the way, partly of course because seniors are extremely important in the prescription market. Walgreens really needs a program like this. But this is a good lesson for other types of retailers, too.

This new program is also another example of the activity that Walgreens has initiated over the past several years in forging alliances with PBMs, insurers and pharmacy services companies, as well as its acquisition of many Rite Aid stores. Walgreens has become a more aggressive player in the prescription market than ever before.

Max Goldberg

The main challenge for all retailers is to make their mobile apps easy to use and relevant. Walgreens is doing a great job regarding ease of use. Consumers can easily navigate the app and it is built to fit customer life stages. Too many retail apps are advertising vehicles: not intuitive, not set up for mobile space limitations and not valuable. If you make an app valuable to consumers in their everyday lives, they will have a reason to use it.

Manish Chowdhary

Several of the challenges for older consumers (or any consumer) using apps on mobile devices is trust/security and usability.

The Walgreens app keeps it simple and takes into consideration their older audience. Having an app that is simple does not make it bad. Ease of use should be adopted by other retailers — it brings the retailer closer to the consumer. Features in the app like the pill reminder are another touch point for the retailer to the consumer that strengthens brand loyalty. How quickly and easily you can refill your prescription and understand that it went through to the pharmacist or access information about your prescription gives the user a sense of confidence and trust in the retailer.

Mel Kleiman
Mel Kleiman
President, Humetrics
5 years 6 months ago

Designing the app to appeal to their customers no matter the customer’s age is a great move. The question is, how many of these features will turn off people who are more comfortable using apps? I think the answer is none. They will still experience all of the benefits.

My question is, what could be done with their present hiring app to make it easier and more efficient to use?

"Walgreens really needs a program like this. But this is a good lesson for other types of retailers, too."
"Walgreens is succeeding by thinking beyond their own immediate interests."
"Designing the app to appeal to their customers no matter the customer’s age is a great move."

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