CVS Pharmacy: Reinventing the Drugstore

August 17, 2016

In a sweeping effort to differentiate itself from others in the retail pharmacy world, CVS® is emerging as a healthcare improvement center rather than a prescription fulfillment operation. Its sweeping changes illustrate how innovative thinking can apply to any business.  

CVS was at one time indiscernible from its competition—another faceless pharmacy where consumers shopped for toiletries and greeting cards while waiting for prescriptions to be filled. But the national retail giant set out to change that and today the corporation is being lauded for its innovation. A look at six of the brand’s major changes shows how innovation has played a part in its growth:

> In 2014, CVS discontinued the sale of tobacco products in all of its stores, causing a dip in profits in 2015. There is no plan to reverse course and the company has received positive reviews in its decision to adhere to healthcare objectives. Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to do something daring and unexpected. Be firm in what your organization stands for and be willing to adjust accordingly. You may see positive results to your bottom line.

> CVS expanded its MinuteClinics® to over 1000 clinics in 33 states. The walk-in centers have clinical affiliation with some of the largest hospital systems in the country and provide routine healthcare services to millions. Takeaway: Be smart about the way you expand into an overly competitive marketplace. While MinuteClinics® provide routine services, CVS stays clear of medical services with higher profit margins. As a result, hospitals welcome MinuteClinics® in their communities.

> As a direct result of consumer input, CVS began introducing healthier refrigerated foods and fresh produce in 500 of its stores. Takeaway: Align yourself firmly with your image, and expand services to both complement your primary offering and answer consumer needs.

> In June of last year, CVS opened a Digital Innovation Lab, where innovators are rapidly developing mobile apps that empower customers to manage their own health. Takeaway: Utilize technology to deepen consumer loyalty and strengthen relationships with clients. 

> CVS Express, a free curbside service, WILL EXPAND TO MOST STORES IN 2016. Customers can order non-prescription products via mobile app and employees will deliver the products curbside. Takeaway: Leverage your market advantage to capture part of another market. With Amazon® and other online retailers providing convenient, hassle-free delivery of vitamins, supplements, and other drugstore items, CVS leveraged this unique pharmacy service to convert customers away.

> In the works at CVS today is a suite of vision and dental services to be offered in stores. Takeaway: Never stop diversifying your core offering. Continue to explore new ways to add value, while adhering to your business goals.