Walgreens adopts tech mindset to achieve business goals

Two wind turbines, 850 solar panels and a geothermal technology system placed 550 feet into the ground are features of a new Walgreens store in Illinois, as the US pharmacy chain aims to enhance its green credentials.

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50% through the use of these technologies and other systems such as LED lighting and daylight harvesting, and carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment.

Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management, commented: "We begin a one-year effort to operate a retail store that will generate more energy than it consumes.

"Using the best technologies available, we believe we can accomplish our goal of having the first net zero energy retail store in America. Currently, we have facilities that utilise wind turbines, solar installations and geothermal technologies. This is the first time we are bringing all three of these technologies and many more together in one place."

It is hoped that the store, which opened in Evanston last Thursday, will produce at least as much energy as it consumes, and the move comes as Walgreens is rolling out further innovative uses of technology to improve its customer service nationwide.

Selected Healthcare Clinics in Walgreens stores have launched a new mobile tool to allow customers to request and book in-store health appointments. In association with healthcare technology company iTriage, the free app – available on iPad, iPhone and Android devices – will give people immediate confirmation about their appointment and is viewed as a platform for boosting efficiency in the booking process.

The tool arrives on the market after a successful pilot programme was completed in Denver and Chicago.

Heather Helle, divisional vice president for Walgreens Consumer Solutions Group, said: "As Healthcare Clinic continues to expand services and serve as an entry point for many into the healthcare system, it's critical to leverage the latest technology, especially mobile, as a tool to help our patients get, stay and live well."

In what was a busy few days last week for Walgreens, the company also announced that its previous head of eCommerce Sona Chawla has been appointed to the newly created role of president of digital and chief marketing officer.

The role will see Chawla oversee a new digital & marketing division, comprising eCommerce, enterprise-wide marketing and customer loyalty and insights, and comes as chief marketing and customer experience officer Graham Atkinson announced he is to retire in January 2014.

Walgreens said that bringing these teams together will allow the company to drive forward its omnichannel vision.

"Our goal is to optimise our marketing investments and mix to reach consumers where they are, as their use of digital media continues to escalate," explained Chawla.

"This means more than just adding digital media to our marketing portfolio. We also will adopt a digital mindset throughout our marketing efforts."