Rite Aid unveils its 'stores of the future' in bid to become healthcare destination

Rite Aid has formally launched its new concept stores. (Rite Aid)

Rite Aid has officially unveiled its new concept stores as it overhauls its brand to keep up with competitors like CVS Health and Walgreens.

The pharmacy chain opened the third store built around its "Stores of the Future" model in Moscow, Pennsylvania, with plans to open further stores in other markets over the next several months.

The redesigned stores, which are part of the company's broader RxEvolution brand overhaul, bring pharmacists out from behind the counter to enable them to communicate more directly with customers, and includes an overhauled assortment of products aimed at "clean, healthy living," Rite Aid said.

The stores aim to be a "spa-like destination," the company said in its announcement. Millennial and Gen X women are a key demographic Rite Aid is targeting with the revamp, it said.

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“This is an important milestone in our relentless pursuit of becoming the preeminent whole health destination. We’re charging forward on our journey to revitalize the chain drug store experience – store by store, community by community – and today we’re ready and excited to invite customers to join us on this journey,” said Jim Peters, chief operating officer at Rite Aid, in a statement.

“Customers will soon take notice as the look and feel of our stores is being refreshed, our merchandising mix evolves to an assortment that best supports whole health, and perhaps most importantly, our trusted neighborhood pharmacists are empowered and qualified to consult not simply on traditional medicines, but alternative remedies as well," Peters said. "We’re redefining an industry, and aspire to get each one of our customers to thrive."

The store design overhaul echoes similar moves from other pharmacy chains of late, such as CVS's new HealthHUB pharmacy stores, which dedicate additional retail space to healthcare products and services.

In putting pharmacists in a more direct role in consumer interactions, Rite Aid wants to take advantage of the high level of trust patients already have in their phararmacists to enable them to work as "whole health advocates." 

Rite Aid is launching additional training for its pharmacists to ensure they're certified immunizers as well as able to provide appropriate wellness education to customers, according to the announcement.

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Jocelyn Konrad, executive vice president and chief pharmacy officer, said in a statement that pharmacists are "perhaps the most trusted and accessible – yet underutilized" health providers.

“Pharmacists can and do serve as the last-mile connector in the healthcare ecosystem, and are trusted healthcare experts in people’s day-to-day lives," Konrad said. "We’re unlocking their potential so our pharmacists can shine and do what they do best: care for our communities and customers.”

Rite Aid also invested heavily in updating its online customer experience, including greater emphasis on home delivery options amid the pandemic in partnership with Instacart.

The company teased a forthcoming partnership to enhance its pharmacy delivery options in the announcement as well.