Walgreens rolls out 24/7 delivery and parents with sick kids do the happy dance

Discussion
Photo: Walgreens
Dec 01, 2022

Walgreens is coming to the rescue of parents caring for sick kids in the middle of the night. The retailer’s same-day delivery program is going 24/7 as of today.

The drugstore giant said that customers at nearly 400 24-hour Walgreens locations around the country would be eligible to order and receive from a selection of more than 27,000 products, including over-the-counter remedies, beauty and personal care products, groceries and household essentials. The service will not be available to customers in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Orders can be placed using the Walgreens app or from Walgreens.com/SameDayDelivery. The retailer is promoting the service with a free delivery offer on orders of $20 or more through Dec. 10.

“Walgreens knows that taking care of health and wellbeing isn’t exclusive to business hours and that needs can pop up at any time of day — that’s why we’re always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience with convenient and trusted solutions,” Stefanie Kruse, group vice president of digital commerce, Walgreens, said in a statement. “As the place customers turn to for their last-minute needs, we know they will find value in being able to access the items they need most, no matter the hour, right to their door.”

The drugstore retailer is touting its 24/7 service as a natural progression of its efforts to make shopping and receiving goods more convenient for its customers.

Walgreens launched its in-store, curbside and drive-through pickup program in 2020 with orders ready in as little as 30 minutes. The retailer is currently piloting a 30-minute pickup guarantee in New Mexico, Oklahoma and select locations in Texas. Walgreens covers the cost of the basket if it fails to hold up its end of the delivery bargain.

Ms. Kruse in October told RetailWire that the 30-minute pickup pilot is a demonstration of Walgreens commitment to “continually looking for ways to meet our customer needs quickly and surprise and delight them with even more reliable shopping solutions.”

The retailer has not made public a decision to scale the 30-minute offer, but Ms. Kruse noted that Walgreens has quickly scaled its pickup and same-day delivery initiatives in the past and expressed confidence that “we would be able to do so again.”

Walgreens also offers same-day deliveries of prescription medications.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How will 24/7 delivery shape consumers’ views of Walgreens? What do you see as the opportunities and challenges around operating this service?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"While this could be a critical differentiator for Walgreens, it will be essential to assess the overall performance and profitability of the 24/7 delivery model."
"The biggest challenge will be inventory accuracy."
"Great idea. Even better PR move, but profit will determine if this service will last long term."

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21 Comments on "Walgreens rolls out 24/7 delivery and parents with sick kids do the happy dance"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

When the situation is urgent, this service will be a Godsend and reflect very favorably on Walgreens. The challenge of this service, as with all same-day delivery services, is profitability. How do you deliver this level of service and not kill your profitability? That said, as a key player in the delivery of health products and services, Walgreens is making a strong statement by offering this new service.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is way more than convenience and a great service. This is customer acquisition — big time.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

This underscores Walgreens’ commitment to convenience, care, and customer loyalty. Kudos for meeting this important patient need!

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I’d just be happy if I could consistently get through the drive-thru lane quickly. I once ended up missing my Tamiflu window because I had to wait in line for an hour for them to tell me they didn’t have any.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Let’s start with this line from the article: “The drugstore retailer is touting its 24/7 service as a natural progression of its efforts to make shopping and receiving goods more convenient for its customers.”

Convenience is the newest and perhaps one of THE most important aspects of a customer experience. While it was a true differentiator prior to the pandemic, since the pandemic began convenience in the form of delivery has come to the forefront of customers’ expectations. Walgreens can capitalize on this, but they have to deliver (no pun intended) on their commitment to the customer. They can’t fail the customer, especially if their delivery is tied to a customer’s health.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

A sounds initiative for the type of products and needs Walgreens serves. Illness can strike at any time of the day and having an option to order essentials is very helpful for the consumer. As ever, what profitability for the service looks like remains to be seen, but at least this fills a real need.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

I cannot see this as being a huge earner for Walgreens so it has to be a customer service offering that should be well received by consumers, particularly those with young children or who need medicine overnight. Will Walgreens continue the initiative after the trial? That will be interesting. My guess is this is too expensive a PR strategy to make it long term.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Whenever retailers complain about delivery I always remind them that the pizza guys have been doing it (sometimes a small cheese at $9) for 70 years. There is a tremendous customer benefit and Walgreens will reap the rewards while they figure out how to make it more profitable. CVS though, has always been a fast second and will wait for Walgreens to get the bleeding bugs out, and as us Cubs fans used to say, “it’s gonna happen!”

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Walgreens is not competing with Amazon on price, so offering night-time delivery is a smart move. The late-night snack business combined with the OTC goods will be huge, if they can make the logistics work. I noticed that there’s no delivery price mentioned, only a short window for free with the $20 minimum. Also a clever approach to gauge demand patterns.

Walgreens will be viewed much like the doctor who made house calls. They will become a trusted healthcare provider that your family depends on. The only challenge is that it won’t be available from all locations. This is a tremendous value to their customer base and will push CVS to match their service. 

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

This is a potential game changer for Walgreens. I remember making more than a few trips to the 24 hour pharmacy when my kids were young. And now that I’m old, making a few for me. The challenge is scale. Can they deliver a reasonable turnaround when they get busy?

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Convenience in today’s world is sometimes paramount to the overall customer experience. However for Walgreens and other retailers, a 24/7 delivery operating model, while very convenient for their customers, requires a significant investment in systems, capabilities, and infrastructure and increases the overall costs to serve.

While this could be a critical competitive differentiator for Walgreens, as this service scales up it will be essential to assess the overall performance and profitability of the 24/7 delivery model.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Great idea. Even better PR move, but profit will determine if this service will last long term. How many missed 30-minute windows will it take for Walgreens to kill the program? Not many, when average basket sizes are in the $22-25 range. I’m rooting for consistent execution because there’s nothing more important to a parent than getting OTC meds/products quickly to their ailing child. Make this happen Walgreens!

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I used this service yesterday to send immediate need medical products to an elderly relative who lives across the country. I don’t know about needing household items in the middle of the night, but in this case for me, it was a lifesaver. Well done, Walgreens.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Typically 30-minute delivery and 24/7 delivery isn’t something I get excited over because consumer need isn’t there in many categories. Where Walgreens sits, though, 30-minute delivery and 24/7 delivery make a ton of sense and will definitely be appreciated by customers. This is the epitome of convenience given the items shoppers rely on Walgreens for.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The big story here is the prescription and OTC delivery. I’m not sure that other items make the same statement.

As several of my colleagues suggested, this initiative will likely lead to profitability issues. I believe this endeavor will be smaller than it sounds, but the message that Walgreens is trumpeting has much greater value.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Perfect. Walgreens’ decision to deliver after hours will capture new customers and solidify current customers relationships. Don’t worry about worker productivity. If they are not out delivering, then working on the inside of the store will be primary. It’s all productivity while harvesting new customers.

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust

This is another illustration of the value of time and convenience relative to consumer choice and loyalty. It’s a smart move and once that will pay off, as long as it’s truly more convenient — and timely — than a customer having to go to a store in the middle of the night. As healthcare continues to expand outside of traditional channels, Walgreens is well positioned.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Sounds like a marketing ploy. When you need a drugstore because you have a sick child, it usually means you need some kind of a prescription filled, not milk or cough drops. You can get the things they offer at any 24-hour grocery or convenience store.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It might be a big thing … if every other Tom, Dick and Rexall didn’t do exactly the same thing (if they aren’t already). I believe Walgreens greatest asset is its saturation coverage of stores; other aspects, like service, don’t seem to do as well.

Brad Halverson
Guest

If one aspect of quick delivery ever had upside, it’s the convenience of getting medicine and caring for loved ones when you need it. People are busy, can’t get out to shop or some are homebound. This has legs. Any pharmacy that doesn’t jump in is missing out on growth and customer loyalty.

Nicola Kinsella
BrainTrust

This is definitely a plus for consumers. And a big boost for the brand if executed well. You can generate a lot of loyalty by helping a parent take care of a sick child — it’s an emotional moment, and emotions are powerful. The biggest challenge will be inventory accuracy. Will Walgreens increase safety stock levels to make sure they don’t oversell? Increase cycle counting in stores? Increase the frequency of inventory position updates they send to their commerce channels? Optimize inventory updates by SKU velocity? It will be interesting to see how when they can keep their promises.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"While this could be a critical differentiator for Walgreens, it will be essential to assess the overall performance and profitability of the 24/7 delivery model."
"The biggest challenge will be inventory accuracy."
"Great idea. Even better PR move, but profit will determine if this service will last long term."

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