August 4, 2011, 10:37 AM

For Walgreens, mobile commerce is just what the doctor ordered

More than 25% of the retailer’s online prescription refills are scanned via its mobile app.

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More than 25% of the pharmacy chain's online prescription refill sales come from mobile devices.

Just how does a company like Walgreens measure the success of its mobile commerce efforts? One scan at a time.

The drugstore chain, with more than 7,700 stores, says the top metric it looks at to see how well its m-commerce efforts are paying off is the number of scans consumers make with a Walgreens app to refill a prescription. Currently, more than 25% of the retailer’s online prescription sales come from mobile app scans, Rich Lesperance, Walgreens director of online marketing, said Wednesday at the ShopLocal Summit 2011 in Chicago.

Walgreens launched its iPhone app in 2009, with versions for Android and BlackBerry smartphones following. All three apps feature the ability to scan the bar code of an existing Walgreens prescription bottle by using the phone’s camera. Consumers also can use the app to view the weekly ad and create a shopping list. Walgreens also introduced a mobile commerce web site in 2009.

Walgreens uses a variety of methods to advertise its mobile commerce products, ranging from mobile display advertising, such as through Apple Inc.’s iAd service that shows ads in apps, to radio advertising, search engine marketing and other forms of advertising, Lesperance says. The result is that 15% of Walgreens’ online traffic now comes from mobile devices, he says.

Mobile commerce has room for growth, Lesperance adds: “Mobile is still a bit of the Wild West. It’s not as crowded as the desktop side.”

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