June 15, 2010, 5:27 PM

Walgreens prescribes a next-generation mobile program

Walgreens unveils new apps, text message alerts and a site for shoppers on the go.

Lead Photo

A screengrab from Walgreens' new mobile site.

Seeking to strengthen the bond between the web and bricks-and-mortar stores, Walgreen Co. is expanding its mobile commerce program. The retailer today announced it has enhanced the features and functions of its m-commerce site and iPhone app, launched mobile apps for Android and BlackBerry users, and introduced text messaging.

Most noteworthy is its use of transactional text messages to notify customers that prescriptions are ready for pickup. Most retailers using text messaging today employ them strictly for marketing purposes; Walgreens joins the list of those texting about a transaction, such as checking on order or delivery status. Walgreens customers can sign up for text prescription notifications in-store or online.

“We strive to lead the market in bringing new and innovative technology to our pharmacies and pharmacy patients,” says Mark Wagner, Walgreens executive vice president of operations and community management. “Text alerts are a valuable time-saving tool, and the latest example of how our mobile applications are further connecting the web to Walgreens stores and pharmacies, giving customers on-the-go convenience wherever they are.”

The merchant also has introduced special offer texts that inform customers of exclusive Walgreens deals and coupons. Customers can sign up through the Walgreens mobile site or by texting “Walgreens” to the retailer’s short code, 21525.

Walgreens, No. 68 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also has boosted features and functions in its iPhone app and on its m-commerce site. (The site can be accessed through an auto-redirect by typing in Walgreens.com or by entering m.Walgreens.com). Until today shoppers on the site or in the app have been able to order prescription refills, view photos and order prints, browse products, and locate nearby stores by entering city and state or ZIP code. Now customers can sign up for an account to upload photos from an iPhone and order prints, check in-store availability of products, view prescription history and locate a store in one touch through GPS functionality.

Additionally, Walgreens has introduced Android and BlackBerry mobile apps that provide the same features and functions as the iPhone software. They can be found in the Android App Market and BlackBerry App World. M-commerce technology provider Usablenet Inc. built Walgreens' site and apps.

Walgreens operates 7,522 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 2009 total sales hit $63 billion. Total web sales for the year reached $242 million, up 9.8% from $220.5 million in 2008, according to Internet Retailer estimates.

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