Here's a figure to chew on: In just the last nine months, Walgreens has lassoed in some 72 million new loyalty members, thanks mostly to mobile efforts. Given the huge installed base of the nation's largest standalone pharmacy chain, that kind of growth in less than a year is noteworthy. Having senior execs attribute the change to a single platform is little less than stunning.
Another observation that's been shared by Walgreens Chief Marketer Graham Atkinson is that fully half of all of the chain's mobile traffic happens when shoppers are in-store. This is something that Walgreens—and a handful of other chains—have emphasized, which is that Web sites are good at helping shoppers shop online and perhaps be attracted to a specific chain. But the mobile app is becoming an in-store companion, which is a very different role than the one originally envisioned for mobile.
In-store, the app can advance revenue goals in two very different ways. It can make the experience more enjoyable, faster and easier, thereby encouraging future visits. No more does one have to chase down an associate for help finding an item's location or seeing whether it's in stock. The second revenue in-store goal is by suggesting upgrades or additional items. Indeed, aisle map functionality can flag products that the shopper will be walking right past.
Now that Walgreens has gotten so many prospects to join its CRM program, the next real test for mobile will be moving the revenue needle. Are those in-store digital companions truly having any impact? When Walgreens starts bragging about those numbers, it will have earned the right to think of itself as a successful merged channel retailer.
- See this Mobile Commerce Daily story
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