CVS Pharmacy has entered a new arena by adding audio and optical services to its in-store offerings.
The retailer has opened seven hearing and five optical centers in its drug stores in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, with plans to expand to 50 locations by the end of 2017, Morgan Diaz, senior director, health services division at CVS Health, told Chain Store Age’s sister publication, Drug Store News. The centers are housed adjacent to pharmacies.
“It allows us to have a nice health quadrant in the back of the store,” Diaz said.
As for the reasoning behind audio centers, Diaz pointed out that 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, with 30 million of these people under the age of 65. However, only 20% do something to alleviate the problem.
“We really wanted to ask those people how can we help and how can we differentiate in the space,” she said. “We learned that they were looking for two things: access and price.”
CVS has audiologists in-store at its audio centers five days a week that conduct a complete hearing loss assessment to understand the patient’s needs and then help them with their needs to regain sound, such as hearing aids, Diaz explained.
Zeroing in on optical, approximately three-quarters of Americans have some sort of vision correction need, which presents a huge marketplace, Diaz told DSN. She acknowledged there are many places for people to take care of their eye care needs, so CVS made sure to stand out from the competition.
“We looked at how we can help and how we can differentiate ourselves in this industry,” she said. “We spent a lot of time with patients, and they asked us for a few things. One was access. ‘I really want to see my doctor at the time of day and day of the week I really need them,’ was a big thing we heard. Whether they have something in their eye, they have an emergency or just a routine eye check, they were having trouble seeing an eye doctor, with some waiting as much as 30 days to six months. We really wanted to make it convenient and just let people walk in. We have eye doctor coverage five days a week [at our optical centers].”
Audio and optical centers are one element of CVS’ updated store design that enhances the customer experience.