Successful healthcare web merchants know how to cater to online shoppers with features that make it easy to research and complete a purchase.
That includes adding unique web features for specific segments of shoppers, an approach drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is taking with Chinese shoppers and mobile payment.
As of mid-February, 3,000 Walgreens stores, including 9,560 locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is now accepting Alipay, a third-party mobile and online payment platform established in Hangzhou, China, in February 2004 by Alibaba Group and its founder Jack Ma.
With 870 million users, Alipay claims to be the world’s largest mobile payment platform and says it controls about 54% of China’s mobile payments market. Walgreens is adding Alipay to its store and online customer payment options to cater to Chinese shoppers that shop Walgreens at home and while traveling abroad.
In China, Walgreens has a 40% stake in Sinopharm Holding Guoda Drugstores Co., which operates about 3,500 stores in 70 cities. Walgreens paid about $416 million for its share of Sinopharm in 2017, the company says. Walgreens is adding Alipay as a payment option to serve an audience of millions of Chinese tourists that travel to the U.S. and elsewhere, the retailer says.
The Alipay collaboration will allow Walgreens to further meet the unique needs of the more than four million Chinese travelers who are in the U.S. at any given time, says Walgreens president of operations Richard Ashworth. Walgreens also claims it will be the largest U.S. drugstore chain to deploy Alipay, providing Alipay users with potential economic savings as credit cards typically have a higher foreign transaction fee.
“Walgreens is focused on making shopping more convenient for our customers—this collaboration has particular significance for our Chinese customer population,” Ashworth says. “Not only can they buy our products via our dedicated store on Alibaba’s Tmall Global marketplace, but they will now also be able to shop in the U.S. using Alipay as they would in China.”
Alipay is currently available at 3,000 Walgreens stores, including in cities where Alipay users travel the most often, such as New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas, the retailer says. By April, Alipay’s availability will expand to more than 7,000 Walgreens locations across the U.S., according to Walgreens.
“More than two-thirds of Chinese tourists said they used their smartphones to pay abroad in 2018,” Walgreens says.
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