March 22, 2012, 12:26 PM

Walgreens helps shoppers find answers on Facebook

The retailer’s new service features health information on the social network.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

The Walgreen Co. wants to make its Facebook presence a hub for health care information by adding an “Answers” application to its page it maintains on the social network. The new Facebook application enables shoppers to find information about drugs, supplements and wellness issues. Only shoppers who Like Walgreens’ page can access the application.

Shoppers can access the application by clicking the Answers button on Walgreens’ Facebook page. They can then type their own questions into the application’s search box or look through a health reference guide that allows a consumer to investigate diseases and conditions, look up the causes of symptoms, as well as enter in multiple drugs to check for possible interactions.

Both the Answers tool and health reference guide use content that comes from health-focused question-and-answer platform Sharecare.com. While Sharecare.com’s content is written by health care professionals, Walgreens pharmacists will provide answers to frequently-asked health questions as part of the terms of the companies’ agreement.  The answers function is available only on Facebook.

The move is the latest way Walgreens is aiming to establish itself as a go-to resource for health information, says Sona Chawla, the president of e-commerce for Walgreens, No. 73 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The retailer also offers tools such as 24-hour live chat with pharmacists on Walgreens.com.

“With the success of our online health initiatives, such as the ability to chat live with a Walgreens pharmacist 24/7, this is yet another example of our commitment to innovation in the digital space that gives people greater access to Walgreens pharmacists and other clinical experts," she says.

In addition to providing shoppers with information, the new application also aims to help the retailer sell products. Above the search box is a Refill Your Prescriptions button that takes shoppers to the “Refill Presciptions” section of Walgreens.com. And when a shopper enters a question such as “How do I get rid of my cough?” she is taken to a page that features a Pharmacy Chat button below the answer that takes her to Walgreens.com where a pharmacist can recommend an over-the-counter product. 

Ron Kelly, Walgreens vice president, customer and pharmacy services, e-commerce, will speak this June at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago in a session titled “Coordinating store and web inventory to snag more shopper dollars.” The IRCE $200 early-bird discount expires March 31.

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