Omnichannel experience must be consistent

December 4, 2015By Future of Retail, Views

As seen in "My Turn" in Chain Drug Review, April 27, 2015

By Kyle Lentz

The user experience is the first topic in a six-part series on technology and how it helps consumers manage their health and wellness. Additional subjects in the series will include taxonomy, the power of images, social media, mobile health and wearable technology.

In retail, staying competitive is its own form of keeping up with the Joneses. With the ongoing evolution of technology and the multiple selling mediums available to reach today’s customer, keeping up with the Jetsons may be more accurate.

A strategically positioned omnichannel approach can keep your customers well informed at every touch point of the purchasing cycle while positioning your drug store as a comprehensive provider of the health and wellness products and services they seek.

When you develop your omnichannel strategies, keep in mind the different demographic groups in your target market. They not only have different needs and perspectives, they also can have various levels of familiarity and interaction with the many channels with which they interact.

For instance, today’s consumer is not a replica of those that came before her. Monica tweets, blogs, vlogs, Vines, Instagrams, Snapchats, and likes or dislikes. She is online every day, using technology for a variety of purposes.

Monica is a Millennial, so she is quite technologically savvy. Mr. and Mrs. Riley, senior citizens who just purchased their first smartphone, are not yet as comfortable online.

While you develop marketing strategies for your different demographic targets, you can refine your omnichannel approach to a more comprehensive and consultative way of selling products that cultivates relationships. While both Monica and the Rileys have different needs, it’s imperative that they both experience a consistent user experience in whichever channel they encounter or engage with your store.

Providing a familiar and pleasing experience across channels builds satisfaction and loyalty while increasing the likelihood they’ll make their purchase with you — through any channel.

One way to cultivate relationships with any demographic groups across channels is with loyalty cards. Think of these as the glue that binds the shopper to the drug store. For the Rileys, it is a money-saving tool that brings them to you for their health and wellness needs. You can use the data on the card to help solidify your relationship with the Rileys.

Let’s look at the CVS® ExtraCare® program as an example. The Rileys can use their card for instant savings at the register, at coupon-printing kiosks within the store or from the app on their new phone. Their purchases are tracked, and their weekly flyer is partially customized to offer discounts on the items they typically purchase the most. CVS is using an omnichannel approach with their loyalty card to build a relationship with the Rileys.

Walgreens® offers the Balance Rewards program. It’s also a money-saving tool that rewards a customer by exchanging points made on qualifying purchases for actual dollar savings at the register. Walgreens went one step further. Joining forces with WebMD®, they developed a healthy living program called “Your Digital Health Advisor.” This is a tool that allows Monica to set goals and track her progress, and it offers her advice on achieving her goals. Points are added to Monica’s Balance Rewards card when she reaches milestones and achieves her goals. Walgreens is positioning itself as a partner in its customers’ efforts to manage their health and wellness through this omnichannel approach.

The phone app is another powerful tool in the omnichannel experience and in building customer relationships. From refilling prescriptions to researching over-the-counter treatments, the app is one tool that can reach a wide customer base. Because convenience is so important to today’s working families, availability of easy tools like apps can help to create a lifelong customer. If you haven’t already, take advantage of this popular tool that crosses generations and makes it easy to engage with your store.

There is no argument that technology is the direction that needs to be taken to secure future retail growth. However, when Monica or the Rileys have a health issue or question, loyalty cards and phone apps take a back seat to having a trusted and available health advisor — a pharmacist who is able to provide consultation and recommendations. Access to a pharmacist in-store or online remains one core benefit that will continue to enhance the user experience.

Don’t overlook the opportunity to emphasize this very valuable asset in all of your channels. Find ways to incorporate pharmacist insights and access in as many channels as you have the resources for and that make sense.


The other articles in this series that examine how consumers are using technology to manage their health and wellness are: Taxonomy: Streamlining the online experience; What it takes to create product images that sell; Social media has impact on consumer health care; Health information now captured by what you wear; and Mobile devices back drive for health, wellness.

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