Walgreens steps up Microsoft partnership, adds Adobe deal to roll out new digital tools

Microsoft
Walgreens is stepping up its technology partnerships as it feels the pressure from pharmacy competitors Walmart, Amazon's PillPack and new digital startups. (Microsoft)

Walgreens Boots Alliance is expanding its 18-month partnership with Microsoft to roll out new technology tools to personalize the healthcare and retail experiences for its 100 million customers.

Working with the tech giant and Adobe, the drugstore company plans to implement new customer analytics and outreach tools to help it better serve customers.

The digital experience and customer insights platform will advance Walgreens into the second phase of its digital transformation, the company said.

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“At WBA, our mission is to deliver extraordinary experiences that enrich our customers’ lives. Capabilities to combine previously disparate customer data sets, including information from more than 100 million members of our loyalty programs, into a more singular, unified view of the customer—powered by these modern technology platforms—will enable us to truly personalize our omnichannel healthcare and retail offering,” said Vineet Mehra, global chief marketing officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Walgreens announced its partnership with Microsoft last year to develop new healthcare delivery models, including technology and retail innovations to disrupt the healthcare delivery space.

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The strategic partnership with Microsoft and the new deal with Adobe allows Walgreens to harness insights to deliver more engaging and personalized experiences while respecting and protecting the privacy choices of patients and customers, the company said.

Walgreens and other drugstore giants have been feeling the pressure from pharmacy competitors Walmart and Amazon, which bought PillPack in 2018.

Walgreens' new digital capabilities also help give the company a leg up against emerging pharmacy startups such as Capsule.

“There’s no denying that the retail industry has been in a constant state of change over the past several years and consumers expect personalized interactions, connected online and in-store experiences, and high-quality customer service when they shop,” said Shelley Bransten, Microsoft's corporate vice president for retail and consumer goods industries, in a statement.

In a recent interview, Rick Gates, Walgreens' senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare, said industry collaborations will be valuable as Walgreens continues to innovate during the COVID-19 health crisis and after the crisis subsidies.

"The need to accelerate the pace of innovation is going to be very important. There is going to be a lot more collaboration to solve things quickly and it's going to be less about building things yourself," Gates told Fierce Healthcare.

RELATED: How Walgreens leveraged its Microsoft partnership to respond to COVID-19

Walgreens plans to leverage Microsoft's Dynamics 365 and Power Platform along with the Adobe Experience Cloud to collect data and develop customer profiles to engage customers and create personalized experiences.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 will serve as Walgreens' customer data platform to provide a unified, 360-degree view of the customer while Adobe’s customer experience management solutions will enable the company to deliver those experiences through the industry’s only end-to-end solution for analytics, content management, personalization and campaign orchestration, Walgreens said.

The company plans to launch an individually tailored prescription experience for patients at Walgreens. It will also roll out a bespoke beauty experience for customers by enabling Boots Beauty Consultants to provide custom product recommendations.

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The new platform also will power the company’s strategic initiative around mass personalization—delivering the right offers and content to the right customer whether they shop in the store, online or through the mobile app.

"COVID-19 has created a world that is more digital while redefining the value of physical stores," said Anil Chakravarthy, Adobe's executive vice president and general manager for its digital experience business, in a statement.

The deal with Adobe will help the retail and pharmacy giant better blend online and offline customer experiences, Chakravarthy said.

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