Walgreens testing smaller store format: 8 things to know

Walgreens is testing a new type of store that cuts down on square footage and emphasizes the pharmacy. Internally, the pilot project is dubbed "Cooper," according to CNBC

Here are eight things to know:

1. Walgreens has opened more than 30 small-format pharmacies as part of the pilot program. Depending on how they perform, the retail pharmacy chain plans to open more of them across the U.S.

2. The Cooper is a reference to BMW's Mini Cooper.

3. The small stores were inspired in part by Walgreens stores that are near hospitals because they typically cater to patients who are just picking up medications upon discharge.

4. The small stores are in a variety of cities, including Mobile, Ala., Indianapolis, Knoxville Tenn., and Greenville, S.C. The first stores were opened in early 2019.

5. In the small stores, there are fewer items for sale in the front of the store and fewer over-the-counter medications. They are about a quarter of the size of a typical Walgreens store, which sits at 13,500 square feet, according to CNBC.

6. The stores focus on the pharmacist and customer relationship. Walgreens sees the smaller stores as a place where customers can have more one-on-one conversations with pharmacists, especially customers with chronic conditions, Rina Shah, Walgreens vice president of pharmacy operations, told CNBC. 

"These stores are really intended to provide a high-touch experience, and even a convenient experience, to our patients in a different capacity than potentially a very busy 24-hour location where people are coming in and out," Ms. Shah said. “The value of pharmacy is not so much the prescription that you take. It's understanding how to take the medication, what side effects you need to manage, and then ultimately, how do you manage your disease going forward."

7. The pharmacies also offer vaccinations.

8. The small pharmacies are just one of the ways Walgreens is working to keep up with such competitors as CVS Health, Walmart and Amazon. Walgreens has opened health corners in some of its stores, rents space to diagnostics company LabCorp and offers some primary care through third-party companies. In addition, 230 Walgreens stores have clinics staffed with nurse practitioners.

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