Houston, TX – Brick and mortar stores are quickly disappearing. In 2018, over 3,800 stores closed their doors. Popular retailers such as Toys R’ Us and Gap have found themselves on the list, falling victim to a new trend in favor of online shopping and virtual services. With online retail giants like Amazon driving consumer expectations, brands are looking for ways to innovate their physical locations in an effort to remain competitive. CVS and Walgreens are taking on a health-centric layout to showcase their new health services and product offerings.

While the new stores are currently only running as tests, in an effort to be seen as more of a healthcare provider, the two pharmacy chains have designed their drugstores to resemble a doctor’s office – showcasing more of their healthcare services and less staple products such as greeting cards and general merchandise.

In Houston, Texas CVS opened three concept stores, referred to as HealthHubs. These stores aim to provide and showcase products and services geared towards managing chronic conditions. Other new offerings include:

  • Endcap displays with technology to get seniors help when they’re having an emergency.
  • Wellness rooms to hold yoga classes, nutrition seminars and other health-related events.
  • CVS MinuteClinics (Walk-In Clinics) that offer additional services such as a lab for blood testing and health screenings. Clinics will also include an on-site dietician who can counsel patients or connect with them via Noom, an online weight-loss service.
  • A care concierge to help guide patients between the pharmacy, clinic and other health services. The concierge will also feature iPads to browse through health and wellness apps and shop CVS online.

Walgreens on the other hand, has renovated one store near its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois. This store is combining all of the features currently being tested across the country. The new Walgreens design concept includes:

  • A Health Corner which serves as the hub for pharmacy, optical and lab services. While each service has its own room, the Health Corner provides a central location in the store where patients can make appointments or pick up/drop off prescriptions.
  • Optical care that features a wide array of glasses to choose from and a room where independent optometrists can perform eye exams.
  • Lab services by LabCorp that include bloodwork and drug tests.
  • Hearing services provided through a partnership with Starkey, a hearing aid manufacturer, to perform hearing tests and fit patients for hearing aids.
  • Private pharmacy counters and a dedicated lane for express check-outs.

Why This Matters – 

The desire for convenience and easy access to healthcare is shaping consumer expectations and changing the way brands do business. Some are able to withstand the challenge, others are closing their doors due to lack of sales as consumers seek alternative options online. Companies such as CVS and Walgreens are looking to innovate by re-designing their stores to provide new features and services through partnerships with other health-related brands.

As healthcare expectations continue to change, brands like CVS and Walgreens may pave the way for success in maintaining physical storefronts, even opening the door to how brands can use partnerships to create new business opportunities and attract a new segment of clientele.

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.