Purchase Path Deep Dive: Walgreens

In this day and age, it is so important to have a successful buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) experience with more and more customers purchasing items online. It may seem like a very simple process, but messing up even one small step in between could cause cart abandonment, miss picks, or customers arriving at the wrong pickup location - all resulting in frustrated customers. 

On the other hand, a seamless, fast, easy online and in-store experience can delight new customers and keep existing ones coming back for more. As part of our new series analyzing BOPIS strategies of retailers, we took a look at Walgreens.

Shopping Experience

The first step in having a successful BOPIS experience is by highlighting the service on your website. Walgreens did a great job advertising it from the second you load onto the website and made it a very alluring “30 minutes or less” pickup option throughout the shopping experience. Let’s take a closer look at the experience.

BOPIS Visibility

Right off the bat, Walgreens’ website has a vibrant advertisement offering “pickup in as little as 30 minutes”. Not only is it attention-grabbing, the idea of getting my items in less than 30-minutes was pretty enticing. Furthermore, this banner is kept at the top throughout your online shopping experience - making it pretty hard to forget it as an option. 

However, when I clicked on the banner advertisement “pickup in as little as 30 minutes”, I was taken to an information page that is pretty underwhelming and provides few additional details about what to expect. 

Clicking “shop now” didn’t take me to a page of products I can pick up in 30 minutes like I expected. Instead, it takes you to a catalog with deals and highlighted products. Clicking on the categories on the left takes you to that sort of catalog for that specific category. Not only does it not show you which products (if not all of them?) are available to be picked up in 30 minutes, it doesn’t even show the normal product list. 

Clicking “how it works” takes you to an even more vague description of how to place an online order and then pick it up in store, saying you can get it curbside, in the drive thru, or in-store. I can see how this could cause a logistical nightmare for in-store employees and frustration for customers who are waiting for the employees to find their item and deliver it to the correct pick up point.

After such a strong start with the banner advertisement, the information following was quite disappointing. 

Ease of Shopping

Once I started searching for my items, Walgreens made it easy to select my preferred delivery option using product-specific calls to action and clear product availabilities for shipping and in-store. walgreens bopis

On the results page, I loved that the call to action under each product was either “add to cart”, “add for pick up” and “add for shipping” - depending on store availability. I could, however, see how someone not paying close attention could miss this subtle difference and would consider recommending differentiating the options using different colors or call-to-action (CTA) styles.

I was - however - really pleased to see that when I clicked “add to cart” from the results page, it prompted me to select my fulfillment method as pickup or shipping.

Continuing to the product page, they made it even clearer which delivery options were available to me and the rest of the shopping experience was super simple. 

To my surprise, Walgrens didn't show item quantities - either on the results page or on the product pages. When I tested this by adding ten of one of my items, a popup appeared confirming I added items to my cart, but I wouldn't say they effectively highlighted the fact that they aren't able to fulfill my entire request. Not only could Walgreens help customers make better purchasing decisions with this addition, but they could also drive urgency for customers to move fast on low quantity items.


Cart Suggestions

While Walgreens didn’t provide any suggestions in the cart, relevant, sponsored, and “bought together” suggestions were presented on the product page, pre checkout. 

When I pulled up the product page for bandages, most of the suggestions were pain relievers - made sense to me. 

Walgreens could make some simple improvements to their user interface to improve upsell by providing cart suggestions that are relevant to the items being purchased. 

Checkout Experience

Purchasing my items was incredibly straightforward and easy and their website was clean and free of distractions. From your shopping cart, you can confirm your pickup store and its operating hours or change to a different store with just a few clicks. 

I loved that I could add an alternate pickup person to avoid any confusion and sign up to receive updates about my order via text.

Out-of-Stock Substitutions

While I didn’t encounter any out-of-stocks, I loved that Walgreens provided options during checkout for handling such a scenario.

During checkout, they allow you to toggle your preference between “don’t substitute” “substitute with any brand” or “substitute with same brand only”. 

Walgreens also provided a space to write notes to the associates about what my substitution preferences were. Unlike other brands I’ve reviewed, Walgreens defaults your preference to “don’t substitute”, which as a consumer I appreciate, but it makes me wonder if Walgreens is leaving money on the table. 

I’d be interested to see what sort of system Walgreens has for making smart substitutions or whether the employee uses their own discretion.

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I also liked how clear they made their substitution policy, which is something I’ve been frustrated by with other brands. To my astonishment, their policy promised, “You will never be charged more for an item that is substituted. You will be charged the same price as the originally ordered item or a lesser amount.” 

As mentioned, the store had all of my items and no substitutions were made, but their substitution policy made me feel like I would be taken care of in such an event.

Post Purchase Followup

Walgreens pickup instructions BOPIS

Within seconds of placing my order, I got a confirmation email letting me know that it was received and they’ll notify me when my order is ready. I also loved that they confirmed my store again and provided me with their store hours and pickup FAQs in case I had any questions.

When my order was ready I received a really detailed email letting me know my pickup options and what to expect. While not addressing what to do if you planned to pick it up in the drive-thru, they provided specific instructions on where to park or pick up your items in-store and even allowed you to notify them you’re on the way or waiting outside for added convenience.

On-time completion

While Walgreens promised “pickup in as little as 30 minutes” throughout their site, that was, unfortunately, not my experience.

I placed the order at 8:00 PM and waited... and waited some more. 

It wasn’t until 10:30 PM (30 minutes before the store closed) that I received an email notifying me that my order was ready for pickup. So I had to wait until the next day to collect my items.

Pickup Experience

Picking up my order was straightforward and fast. I clicked the call-to-action in my email to let them know I was on my way - 15 minutes out to be exact - and headed off to the store. 

When I arrived, I parked in one of the two designated pickup spots, clicked the “I’m here” button in my email, and told them the made and model of my car. Within 2 minutes an associate was at my window with my order, confirmed my name, and sent me on my way! As I was leaving the parking lot I received a thank you from Walgreens for picking up my order.

Opportunities & Takeaways 

  • Differentiate buttons for clearer fulfillment options - Overall, I was really impressed with how clear Walgreens made it to see the fulfillment options for the item you’re viewing. However, they could make some UI/UX improvements on the "add to cart" buttons using color and color fill to make it even clearer and easier.
  • Cart suggestions - While I loved how clean and distraction-free the checkout process was, I can’t help but feel Walgreens is missing an opportunity, not just to sell me more, but tell me things I probably should have thought to add to my cart, based on what’s already there.
  • Out-of-stock substitutions - Walgreens’ out-of-stock suggestions were my favorite part of checkout. Their transparent policy made me feel really secure making my purchase and left me wondering why some other big box retailers aren’t doing the same.
  • Make product availability more visible - It was really frustrating to not know what Walgreens' approximate product quantities were. Adding this simple widget, Walgreens could drive a lot more urgency and help customers make better decisions about which store to purchase from.  
  • Walgreens offering BOPIS still seems a little odd to me. It seemed like a high investment strategy that would take employees away from helping customers in-store. When shopping with other big box retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, or Office Depot, I choose BOPIS as a time and stress-saving option, but in Walgreens’ case, it caters to those who are older, less mobile, or have health limitations.

Don’t keep the customer waiting - While I got my item faster than expected once I arrived at the store, it was really disappointing that they missed the mark on their “30 minutes or less” promise by two full hours.

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