CVS is testing a curbside pickup service in 21 locations.

CVS Health customers now can order items and pick them up curbside at a nearby CVS store.

Online CVS shoppers can browse a catalog of hundreds of items available at their local CVS store. They can then call the store to place an order over the phone with an associate. Within 24 hours, CVS will call the shopper and let her know her order is available. The shopper then goes to the store and picks up the order in the drive-thru, or she can call CVS and an employee will bring the order out to the shopper’s vehicle.

Testing curbside service during pandemic

CVS is currently testing this service in 21 locations in upstate New York  and western Massachusetts.

“With social distancing in place and our customers’ needs evolving, we remain committed to bringing our customers innovative solutions to safely meet their health and wellness needs,” says a CVS spokeswoman.

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CVS has a delivery service, too

Nationwide, CVS has expanded its delivery programs in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer is offering free 1-2 day delivery for prescriptions and some front-of-store items, the spokeswoman says without revealing more. CVS Pharmacy also works with delivery service Instacart for same-day delivery in some markets.

The pharmacy also allows online CVS shoppers to also pick up their pharmacy orders in a dedicated mobile order lane or via a drive-thru. The service was only available in select stores.

CVS first launched a curbside pickup program in April 2016, called CVS Express, that only worked when shoppers place an order via the CVS Pharmacy app. It has since shuttered that program.

“We made the decision to discontinue that program at all participating locations in late 2018 after an evaluation of our service offerings and focusing more on at home delivery,” the spokeswoman says.

The pick-up program initially worked with vendor Curbside, which offered a store-pickup app that worked with at least 25 stores at the Glendale Galleria mall in the Los Angeles area. Consumers could order products from participating merchants in the Curbside app and pick them up outside the store. CVS was the retailer to incorporate Curbside services into its own branded app.

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The program initially launched at CVS stores in San Francisco, Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta. As part of the deal CVS also is investing in Curbside but it did not say how much.

CVS’s innovation has been in the works for years

CVS Health created the store pick-up option in less than three months in the CVS Digital Innovation Lab along with Curbside, CVS says. Launched in June 2015, the Boston-based CVS Digital Innovation Lab develops online and mobile programs for the retailer. The goal of the lab is to enable CVS bring to market new ideas quickly and keep up with the fast evolution of digital commerce, CVS says. CVS said at the time of the lab launch that shoppers who use its mobile app spend four times more than those who don’t. As of late 2015 the CVS Pharmacy app had been downloaded more than 12 million times, the company says.

 

CVS Health operates 9,600 retail pharmacies and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics. In November 2015, CVS rolled out a slew of new ways it customers can use mobile devices to refill prescriptions. Consumers wearing a web-connected Apple Watch can now scan paper prescription and insurance identification information using the CVS Apple watch app and their smartphones and transmit the data to a CVS store’s point-of-sale system for ongoing use. Shoppers also can use their Apple Watch or smartphone to order prescription refills, receive pharmacist alerts on their mobile devices, such as a notification when their prescription is ready to be picked up, and to schedule reminders for taking medication.

CVS redesigned its app in February 2016 to make it easier to use. It added functionality, including a drug interaction feature that allows a consumer to check whether a prescription he is taking might have any potentially adverse reactions with other medications he takes or over-the-counter products, foods, or lifestyle influences, such as sun exposure.

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