Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is teaming up with Narvar Inc.—a firm that provides post-purchase support to online retailers—to offer a package pickup and return service for consumers at more than 8,000 Walgreens locations.
Online retailers can use the service, called Narvar Concierge, to offer consumers the chance to make pickups and returns at Walgreens stores or other locations in the Narvar Concierge network. Once a retailer enables the service, online shoppers can select a concierge location during checkout or when making a return.
More than a dozen retailers are a part of the of Narvar Concierge rollout, including Urban Outfitters Inc. (No. 46 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000), Levi Strauss & Co. (No. 228), Timbuk2 (No. 916), Arezzo & Co., Cole Haan and Dagne Dover.
Walgreens (No. 43) will process Narvar Concierge returns and pickups at the 8,000 Walgreens drug stores that also provide FedEx OnSite service, which is about 84% of Walgreens’ store fleet. In addition to Walgreens, department store chain Nordstrom Inc. (No. 16) is testing the Narvar Concierge service at stores in the Los Angeles market.
The partnership with Narvar allows Walgreens to offer a useful service to its customers and give them another reason to come in, a Walgreens spokesman says. “As our customers redefine value and convenience, change the way they shop, and adopt new technologies, this is another way to leverage new and different platforms, and partnerships, to bring more services and solutions closer to our customers,” he says.
The FedEx OnSite service already allows consumers to pick up and return packages at a Walgreens store and Narvar Concierge builds on that, the spokesman says. “This is another channel through which customers can choose Walgreens stores as an option for package delivery or returns,” he says. “Through its platform, customers shopping with certain participating retailers online can readily select a Walgreens store for package pickup prior to checkout and/or for a location to drop-off their return.”
Narvar’s technology allows retailers to add Narvar Concierge as a delivery option in their existing online checkout process, says Narvar CEO Amit Sharma. “Narvar brings several things to the table, primarily the technology layer that enables retailers to offer convenient pickup and returns at any location in the concierge network, right in their checkout flow, which can be enabled easily,” Sharma says.
The pickup and return service is the latest product offered by Narvar, which provides post-purchase services to more than 600 brands. Other Narvar services include order tracking, notifications, returns and customer service. “Retailers on our platform can opt-in to offer this to their customers, who will see the same interface and level of communication throughout the pickup and returns process that consumers have come to know and trust,” Sharma says. Narvar provides customer service software and support to 163 Top 1000 retailers.
Walgreens and Nordstrom were the right early partners for the concierge service for different reasons, Sharma says. “Walgreens has stores within five miles of over 75% of the U.S. population—they are truly embedded in the community,” Sharma says. “Additionally, both retailers have already been enabling these services for their own customers, so operationally they have processes in place to provide the best customer experience.” In each case, the retailers use their existing service counters to offer the pickup and delivery service.
Narvar plans to continue adding locations to the Narvar Concierge network, making the service more convenient, Sharma says. Narvar Concierge is one of many alternative delivery services online retailers offer to make deliveries more convenient and reduce the risk of “porch piracy” thefts, which make some buyers wary of making purchases online. As many as 30% of Americans have had a package stolen, according to a 2017 survey from Comcast’s Xfinity Home of 1,000 U.S. adults.
The addition of Narvar Concierge builds on Walgreens’ existing efforts to transform its stores by offering new omnichannel services. In late 2018, Walgreens began working with Kroger Co. (No. 17), the nation’s second-largest grocer, to test a “new format and concept” that allows shoppers to order Kroger grocery items online and pick them up at some Walgreens drug stores.
Walgreens also seeks to position itself as a digitally connected source for healthcare and not just a purveyor of drugs, health and beauty supplies, food and household items.
During the company’s second-quarter earnings call with analysts, James Kehoe, Walgreens’ chief financial services officer, said the retailer could spend as much as $300 million on various initiatives related to digital healthcare.
In January, Walgreens announced it would begin working with Microsoft to design new “digital health corners” for its stores, starting with a 12-store pilot project this year. As part of the deal, Walgreens will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing software, moving applications and data to IBM’s data centers, the companies said.