Walgreens expands alliance with FedEx in offensive move against Amazon
Walgreens isn’t about to let Amazon get the best of it.
As the industry waits for the online giant to make its move into pharmacy following its June acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack, Walgreens is expanding its partnership with FedEx to launch next-day prescription delivery nationwide.
Walgreens will charge $4.99 for the next-day delivery service. Orders must be placed by 4 p.m. on business days. The drug store chain said the service makes it “the fastest choice for next-day prescription delivery across the nation.”
“Next-day prescription home delivery is another convenience-driver, alongside our industry-leading number of extended hours pharmacies and one of the most downloaded digital apps in the category, designed to put care in the hands of our patients,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “This expansion of our alliance with FedEx illustrates our commitment to making filling prescriptions as fast and easy as possible.”
Walgreens also plans to expand its same-day delivery service in 2019. The chain already offers same-day delivery in Dallas; Chicago; New York City; Miami; Gainesville, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The delivery services are part of Walgreens Express, which also allows customers to preview the cost of their prescriptions and prepay for those that are eligible. Customers can choose between home delivery or express pickup in store via a dedicated Walgreens Express pickup checkout line.
In 2017, Walgreens and FedEx partnered to provide access to FedEx “drop off and pickup services” at nearly 8,000 Walgreens locations nationwide.
“FedEx and Walgreens are empowering consumers to choose when and where they receive their orders,” said Randy Scarborough, VP of retail marketing, FedEx Services. “Just as FedEx package pick-up and drop-off services at Walgreens locations provide customers with much-needed convenience, the ability to ship prescription medication directly from Walgreens to their homes offers valuable flexibility to best meet individual needs and schedules.”
A Digital Onboarding Experience for Seasonal Hires
As a retailer, you’ve no doubt met your hiring quotas by now for the holiday season. Next comes an equally weighty challenge: how to onboard, train, and most importantly, engage those thousands of seasonal workers that Santa has so generously placed under your corporate tree.
Many chains try to complete this formidable process through a series of automated enterprise HR software systems. Workflow automation apps can simplify typical onboarding tasks like payroll, IT, tax/regulatory documentation, enrollments and the like. eLearning platforms offer online training in the form of videos, on-demand courseware, and testing. And benefits portals can help employees with their insurance questions.
To raise employee engagement, retailers often resort to perks and incentives. Swag bags, employee discounts, bonuses, generous PTO policies, flexible scheduling, and prize drawings are just some of the fringe benefits touted by retailers to raise morale and enthusiasm. Mentoring programs and skills development can also help to keep workers engaged; some even offer end-of-season bonuses or signing bonuses to returning employees.
Despite all these efforts to keep seasonal employees happy, the turnover rate for part-time, hourly retail employees remains high. Smooth onboarding and training, in addition to creating a positive employee experience, is vital to the success of new retail employees. After all, no one wants to feel overwhelmed in their new job; furthermore, many want to feel like they’re part of something important and larger than themselves. Strong HR tools can create this sense of purpose, giving employees a sense of belonging and assurance that they’re a good fit for their new employer.
Although many organizations have standardized platforms to manage the recruiting process, very few have a coordinated solution in place to welcome, onboard, train, and engage seasonal workers. This is where digital workforce platforms are changing the nature of employee engagement. Workforce portals intelligently analyze and track each individual worker’s needs, customizing their personal experience to match their situation as well as the company’s priorities.
Everyone has faced a “first day” scenario in which they feel unsure of what to do, where to go, or what to expect. Digital workforce platforms, such as Deloitte’s ConnectMe, which connects employees to relevant HR resources and tools, combat this dilemma by providing the hand-holding new hires may need. As a one-stop resource, these platforms or portals can also eliminate frustration and bewilderment; instead of exposing new workers to four or five different systems, a single employee platform gives them a much simpler experience. Fragmentation, multiple log-ons, and information disconnects are no longer an issue.
From the moment the new employee accepts his or her position, digital workforce platforms can provide relevant information. For example, a welcome video from the CEO can explain the company’s culture, its approach to customer service, and how it differentiates itself in the market. The platform can lead the new hire through the process of signing W-2’s, completing employee documentation, benefits enrollment, and IT registration. It can also deliver whatever compliance-related training is required (e.g., safety, workplace behavior, apparel requirements, etc.) via video training. As the worker progresses in his/her job, the platform can assist further via links to upcoming work schedules and company announcements, or to manage important life events such as getting married, having children, or changing addresses.
Catering to Digital Natives
For many new hires, digital workplace platforms are desirable because they sync with modern lifestyles. Millennials in particular are “digital natives” who are used to technology. They want their lives to be as frictionless as possible, and online resources fill this need. In fact, portals can make a retailer more attractive in a highly competitive job market—imagine a candidate evaluating three different job opportunities, but only one has a video featuring current employees praising the company’s forward-thinking approach as evidenced by its convenient digital resources. Solutions such as these can play a valuable role in a candidate saying “yes.”
Saving on Costs
For employers, workforce portals can also provide a net cost savings. In the past, employees would have to call the HR service center three or four times to navigate life changes or to have a benefit question answered. By providing a resource for employees to service their own needs, HR service delivery experts can focus on services that add higher value to the organization. Additionally, digital workforce platforms, by helping to ensure consistency in onboarding, training and messaging to new hires, can be key to providing consistent and exceptional customer service by freeing up the employee to focus on the customer and by retaining top quality workers.
A digital workplace platform can usually be implemented in three to four months and for a fraction of the cost it takes to roll out typical enterprise software. Companies considering such a move should remember to focus on culture first, and technology second. Portals are a means to an end—and that end is an exceptional employee experience. Employers need to configure those “moments that matter,” so the result is an optimal employee experience.
To help ensure a successful rollout, consider an outside consultant with a wealth of experience building and deploying workplace solutions. These parties can assist with content creation, best practices in change management, and fresh ideas that can help ensure a successful, innovative, and functional platform.
Hiring seasonal workers is perhaps the biggest staffing task facing any retail HR organization. Yet by engaging these workers quickly—and providing exceptional work experiences over time—seasonal hiring can actually become more efficient. Temporary employees are more likely to come back, and full-time employees are more likely to recommend their workplace to others. Holidays may be a challenge—but in a hot labor market fraught with uncertainties, retailers will find that a digital workplace platform can be a gift that keeps on giving.
Bill Docherty is managing director and general manager of ConnectMe, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Convenience store operator goes digital with surveillance
Sprint Food Stores has taken its anti-theft efforts to the next level with an advanced digital security-camera and recorder system. The cameras provide easily retrievable and emailable surveillance video evidence (with clearer images) that help deter theft and fraud and enable the retailer to efficiently monitor store conditions from home, headquarters, or anywhere with an Internet connection.
“With an advanced surveillance camera system, a convenience store chain could achieve ROI within a year through better prevention of theft, fraud, and unjustified claims as well as improved operational oversight,” said Todd Harrison, IT director, Sprint Food Stores, which operates 20 convenience stores in Georgia and South Carolina. Harrison also oversees loss prevention camera surveillance for the company.
Previously, Sprint Food Stores used lower resolution cameras that required onsite DVD burning as a means of storage. According to Harrison, limitations in surveillance video quality and connectivity were the main reasons that the convenience store chain sought an alternative.
As a solution, Harrison turned to an advanced surveillance camera system provided by ERC, a Kennesaw, Georgia-based supplier and integrator of surveillance and POS systems. The company has provided over 10,000 stores and restaurants with surveillance or POS systems including Arby’s, Popeyes, KFC and Burger King.
The integrator supplied Sprint Food Stores with a complete surveillance video system, including various high-resolution digital cameras, network video recorders, and related equipment. This provides comprehensive video coverage inside and outside of stores, the corporate office, and remote offices, even in low-light/varying light conditions, and enables adjusting the angle or focus to capture the visual evidence required.
“ERC worked with us on exact camera placement and suggested slight adjustments to improve visibility and get the maximum coverage with the minimum number of cameras,” said Harrison.
Among the benefits of the new surveillance system is that it eliminated “blind spots” within stores, such as inside a walk-in beer cooler, which made it easy to prevent theft and catch thieves, according to Harrison.
“We put a camera inside the walk-in beer cooler and at other blind spots so we can monitor them at the front counter,” he explained. “This prevents theft so we don’t have to prosecute, and provides video evidence if we do.”
The equipment installed in Sprint stores includes a 3-megapixel fisheye network camera that provides a full, 360-degree view over a web browser. It provides three, simultaneous pan, tilt and zoom video streams that can be viewed live or recorded.
“The great part about the 360-degree view camera is being able to view the whole store,” said Harrison. “You can zoom in for a close up of what you want to focus on, and quickly see which store camera has the best view.”
The surveillance system can also help to identify and deter potential cash register transaction theft. It integrates with the store POS system and provides smart ER exception reports, a type of advanced filtering software included with the surveillance system. It allows for quick analysis of thousands of register transactions to identify suspicious activity and pull up video of it for review.
“The district manager may get alerts from the exception system if there are an extreme number of voids or no sales, so may bring up ten seconds of video after each to review,” says Harrison.
Deterring and disproving fraudulent claims is another benefit of implementing easily accessible, high quality surveillance video. The information can be used to deter unwarranted claims for slip and fall or workers compensation, for example.
“When a store was involved with a slip and fall claim, we were able to show on video that other customers took the same path as the accuser without incident, and that less harm was involved than stated,” says Harrison. “We retrieved the video, sent it to her lawyer, and her lawyer dropped the case.”
Surveillance video can also be used as evidence to collect costly damage to equipment or store property. This helped when a truck driver ran into a 3-foot high, LED diesel fuel sign, destroying it, at a Sprint location before driving off.
“When we emailed the trucking company high-quality surveillance video of the incident with their truck/trailer number and company name clearly readable, we were promptly compensated,” said Harrison. “That alone paid for the store’s surveillance system.”
On another occasion, Sprint Food Stores had a storage building roof torn off by a truck just before dawn without the driver stopping to talk to anyone, according to Harrison.
“Because our infrared cameras provided clear identifying information on the truck, we were able to quickly file a claim with the truck company and recover 100% of damages,” says Harrison. “There was no delay in receiving payment because we had proof.”
Compared with the chain’s previous approach, implementation of the advanced system has significantly improved management.
“Video can be reviewed and archived remotely as needed, which eliminates the need to spend hours every week traveling to burn DVDs for video storage,” says Harrison.
The surveillance system also has an optional video analytics software module that could help the retailer more effectively merchandise retail items, according to Harrison, who said hat the chain is not currently using this option, but may do so in the future.
“The video analytics module would basically pinpoint where in the store people are traveling, where they stop, and where they spend time, over time,” said Harrison.