CVS Health said on Tuesday it is launching delivery of prescription drugs and other medications across the country, a move it hopes will give it an edge over Amazon.com (AMZN) if it decides to enter the market, and over the like of Walgreens (WBA) and Walmart.
The company, which operates about 10,000 stores, including many located with Target (TGT) locations, said customers will be able to get orders within a day or two after placing them on the CVS web page or app. In some big cities, CVS will offer same-day service.
The efforts come as CVS looks to keep customers in its fold even as Amazon.com is believed to be looking at getting into the drug prescription market. It also comes as CVS continues to struggle with ongoing declining sales of general merchandise and shopper visits at its drugstores. Much of that traffic comes from people heading to stores to pick up the prescriptions but also buying things like toothpaste and mascara while they are there. Prescriptions generate about 70% of CVS’ drugstore sales.
“The rollout of delivery from nearly all of our 9,800 retail pharmacy locations nationwide represents another step forward for us in delivering innovative omnichannel solutions,” CVS Pharmacy’s president, Kevin Hourican, said in a statement. He replaced long time CVS retail chief Helena Foulkes in April.
The fee for next-day or two-delivery will be $4.99 while same-day delivery will cost $8.99. CVS tested same-day delivery in New York last year and its launching it in a number of other large cities now.
CVS (CVS), which is in the process of completing a $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, is eager to stay ahead of Amazon.com, whose health care ambitions are as of yet unclear. The tech company Amazon is teaming up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) to form a new health care venture aimed at lowering the cost of its employee health benefits.
While it and its partners have not gotten specific about what that will entail, CVS has plenty of other retail examples it can look at to see the importance of not getting complacent about its retail business when it comes to Amazon.