CVS rolls out vending machines

CVS Pharmacy
CVS will roll out vending machines in convenient locations across the country.

CVS Pharmacy will start rolling out retail vending machines stocked with on-the-go items ranging from health and wellness products to batteries.

"We are always looking for new ways to combine convenience and innovation to help better serve our customers," said Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business and chief merchant at CVS Pharmacy. "Our new CVS Pharmacy vending machine program allows us to extend that convenience beyond our brick-and-mortar locations to offer customers on-the-go essentials in the locations where they often need them most, like airports, hotels and other transportation hubs."

The first 25 vending machines will be unveiled throughout New England and New York between September and the end of October. Target locations include airports, bus terminals, office parks and college campuses. 

Vending machines will be customized to their location, with more than 70 products in each, including many of the store-brand lines such as CVS Health, Beauty 360, Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem Abound. Some of the selections include healthy snacks, shaving cream, deodorants, vitamins, eye and oral care products, sleep solutions, children's first-aid and home offices essentials such as stain-removal sticks and batteries. 

The machines will feature a 22-inch multi-touch screen with product information and QR code reader to accept promotional codes. The machine will accept debit and credit cards. 

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The rollout of vending machines is the latest effort in evolving the customer experience beyond the brick-and-mortar store. Some of the chain's latest omnichannel formats include curbside pickup and CVS Pay through the pharmacy app. 

But will these vending machines be a hit or miss for CVS?

"These highly interactive vending machines have been around for quite some time now. Generally it's tough to scale sales as you have limited products, inventory and successful locations," Michael Levine, VP or marketing for Photon told FierceRetail. "They can be profitable (even self-funding) and offer sophisticated user experiences that provide interesting location and user data capture moments. To be meaningful, this has to quickly move from an innovation pilot to treated as another customer channel, requiring all the same customer marketing plans and success metrics expected to drive a successful program."

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