Wal­greens phar­macy to de­liver na­tion­wide

Chicago Tribune - - BUSINESS - By Tom Mur­phy

Wal­greens is join­ing ri­val drug­store chain CVS Health in ex­pand­ing home de­liv­er­ies for pre­scrip­tions na­tion­wide, as stores con­tinue ad­just­ing to a re­tail world made more con­sumer-friendly by on­line com­pe­ti­tion.

Wal­greens said Thurs­day it will part­ner with FedEx to de­liver pre­scrip­tions as soon as the next day for a $4.99 fee, and it also is pro­vid­ing same-day de­liv­er­ies in sev­eral cities in­clud­ing New York, Chicago and Dal­las. The Deer­field-based com­pany started of­fer­ing de­liv­er­ies in sev­eral mar­kets in Oc­to­ber.

Wal­greens and FedEx Corp. be­gan a part­ner­ship last year where the drug­store chain started of­fer­ing pack­age drop-off and pick-up ser­vices at sev­eral thou­sand stores.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health Corp. also an­nounced the ex­pan­sion of a na­tion­wide pre­scrip­tion de­liv­ery pro­gram last June. They also will de­liver other items like al­lergy medicines, vi­ta­mins or house­hold prod­ucts.

The com­pa­nies say their de­liv­ery ser­vices are faster op­tions than mailorder pre­scrip­tion pro­grams that have been around for years.

Re­tail­ers have been break­ing out more cus­tomer-friendly ser­vices in re­cent years to hold Ama­zon.com at bay.

The on­line re­tailer of­fers same-day de­liv­er­ies of goods typ­i­cally sold in the front end of drug­stores, or the area out­side the phar­macy. That has hurt store sales for the ma­jor drug­store chains, which spent years build­ing na­tion­wide store net­works to get closer to con­sumer homes. Wal­greens Boots Al­liance and CVS Health both run more than 9,000 U.S. lo­ca­tions.

In­vestors have been wor­ried about a po­ten­tial Ama­zon leap into the turf of drug­stores, es­pe­cially af­ter watch­ing the on­line gi­ant dive into gro­ceries with the ac­qui­si­tion of the Whole Foods chain. Ama­zon sent drug­store shares tum­bling briefly in June when it an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of Pil­lPack, an on­line phar­macy that of­fers pre-sorted dose pack­ag­ing and home de­liv­ery.

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