Drugstore chain uses analytics to gain insight into IT performance
Walgreens is relying on data analytics to ensure all of its IT systems are working as efficiently as possible.
Through a partnership with IBM, the drugstore chain is taking steps to drive more IT support across its enterprise. The first step is to integrate hardware and software from different vendors under one roof. This centralization will make it easier to stay abreast of performance.
Next, the drug chain is utilizing IBM retail analytics at more than 8,100 locations nationwide to help improve the efficiency of field service support for these locations. Finally, IBM Cloud will determine the level of support that will likely be needed at each Walgreens location based on service request history.
In the future, this information may enable better anticipation and coordination when dispatching field technicians, so they arrive at the right time to resolve an issue. These data-driven insights may help to identify the most frequent service calls at a given location and bundle those requests into one service call to minimize repeated instances of system downtime.
These tools are also changing the way IT professionals approach IT support in the field. By shifting to more proactive, predictive solutions that isolate the root cause of a disruption, the company can eliminate repeated problems and free up time for IT professionals to focus their skills and attention on higher value initiatives.
These processes could manage even more locations going forward as the drug store chain announced Tuesday that it has finally secured regulatory clearance for a revised deal that gives Walgreens the green light to buy 1,932 stores, three distribution centers and related inventory from Rite Aid for $4.375 billion (and other consideration). The original proposal, announced in June, had included 2,186 stores and related assets for $5.175 billion.
Store purchases are expected to begin in October, with completion anticipated in spring 2018.
Walmart tests new delivery drop-off point — the customer’s fridge
Walmart’s new grocery delivery program could give it a huge edge in the online ordering game.
The discount giant is testing a concept that will not only deliver fresh groceries, but also enable a delivery person to enter customers’ homes and put away perishables in their refrigerator. Walmart, which announced the news in a blog on its website, is partnering with August Home, a smart locks and smart home accessories provider, and same-day delivery company Deliv, to test the service.
Here’s how it works: Customers place their order online, and when the order is ready, a Deliv driver delivers it to the shopper’s home. If no one answers the doorbell, the driver enters a pre-authorized one-time passcode into a smart lock keypad installed beside the door.
Customers receive a smartphone notification that the delivery is occurring, and they can monitor the delivery through home security cameras integrated with the August security app. Non-perishable items are left in the foyer, and fresh merchandise is placed into the shopper’s fridge. Once the Deliv associate leaves, the customer receives a notification confirming the delivery is complete and the door was automatically locked.
The concept is being tested among a handful of August Home customers in Silicon Valley.
“We want to do more in the future by delivering groceries and other orders in whatever location works best for our customers – inside the house for some and in the fridge/freezer in the garage for others,” Sloan Eddleston, VP, Walmart e-commerce strategy & business operations, said in the blog.
“What might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow,” she added. “This may not be for everyone – and certainly not right away – but we want to offer customers the opportunity to participate in tests today, and help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”
The program rivals similar services that use lockers as delivery drop-off destinations, such as those offered by Amazon. To expand its breadth among more shoppers, the online giant also recently launched The Hub by Amazon, a delivery locker system designed for apartment blocks and other housing complexes that may not have services to accept or store packages.
Jet.com, Walmart’s e-commerce operation launched a similar program through a partnership with Latch, a provider of smart building access technologies. The program enables participating residents to use their smartphone as a “remote key” to grant access to delivery companies dropping off packages, even if they are not home. The program is in 1,000 buildings in New York City.
However, neither Amazon nor Jet’s programs are equipped to store fresh merchandise.
To see a video of the new Walmart delivery pilot, click here.
The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on retail sales
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma had a similar impact on retail sales and the toll was significant on online spending as well as spending in physical stores.
First Data found that Retail spending plummeted 58.7% week-over-week (43.7% year-over-year) in Houston and its surrounding areas at the peak of the hurricane, according to First Data, released two reports analyzing the magnitude of the impact that Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma had on consumer spending. Across the state of Florida, spending dropped 55.7% week-over-week (or 39.1% year-over-year) at the apex of Hurricane Irma.
“Our data shows that consumer spending in both impacted regions followed a similar trajectory," said Rishi Chhabra, VP, information & analytics, First Data. "Spending increased the week before the hurricanes, with people stocking up on key items like gasoline and groceries, and dropped significantly during the storm. After the worst of the hurricanes, consumer spending rebounded as people began to rebuild.”
Both brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce saw a significant drop in sales, First Data found. In Houston during the week of Hurricane Harvey, online spending dropped 41.4%. By comparison, total U.S. e-commerce business was down only 4.3% during the same week. Post-storm, Houston e-commerce sales continued to drag while national e-commerce sales rebounded.
The same was true for Hurricane Irma. In Miami, online activity started dropping the week before Irma, declining significantly by 39.3% during the week of the hurricane (U.S. online spending was up 3.9%). After the hurricane, Miami e-commerce sales increased 0.6%, dragging behind national spending which was up 12.9%.