- Walgreens has partnered with FedEx to launch a next-day prescription delivery service, according to a press release. Walgreens claims the move, part of the company's Walgreens Express service, earns it the distinction of fastest prescription delivery in the U.S.
- A text alert system sends notifications for prescriptions ready for pickup, and a mobile device process enables patients to have the prescriptions delivered the next day. In some markets, same-day delivery is available with 2019 expansion expected.
- The Express service also allows patients to preview cost, prepay for eligible prescriptions and select whether they want home delivery or to pick up in store via their express checkout line.
Walgreens' goal to maintain market presence in the midst of disruption in the service of its patients likely necessitated the partnership with FedEx. Consumers expect efficiency in delivery — either next-day or ease of picking up in store — offered by the likes of Amazon or Walmart, and the expectations for prescriptions are no different.
The competition between Walgreens, CVS and Amazon will likely be a fierce one.
CVS' service, which shares the same price tag as Walgreens at $4.99 per delivery, comes amid lagging sales but enters a last-mile market that is notoriously high in cost. The retailer will rely on USPS which, for all its own reported financial woes, still maintains strategic last-mile advantages that are hard to beat in the private sector.
Meanwhile, the elephant in the room has already made clear its plans in the marketplace. Amazon's June announcement of its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack, combined with Amazon's ubiquitous promise of efficiency and low-cost delivery was, according to Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina, "a declaration of intent."
While Amazon's service has yet to launch — potentially the very reason CVS chose to launch its own service in June with Walgreens following suit — Amazon will seek to leverage its massive reach and mastery over fulfillment and last-mile delivery to lead in this aspect of the healthcare space.
Time will tell if Walgreens, CVS and the like also will have to consider lowering or dropping the delivery fee to keep pace. It is not unreasonable to think Amazon would like them to, with the goal to squeeze the pharmacy retailers' margins even tighter in the battle for market share.