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CVS Is Testing Out Prime-Like Memberships as Amazon Jumps Into Prescription Drugs

Faced with competition from online retailers, CVS (CVS) has been offering free delivery for members of a pilot program who pay $48 a year or $5 a month since August. The program, called CarePass, is only available in the Boston area for now. In addition to free delivery, CarePass includes a pharmacist help line, a 20% discount on CVS-brand items and a $10 coupon each month.

Online shopping has harmed American drugstores, CNBC reports, as it cuts foot traffic that can later be converted into higher ticket sales. While non-pharmacy retail sales are only $20 billion of CVS’ $184.77 billion in revenue, the stores help build a relationship with customers who may later use them for prescriptions. If customers aren’t walking in the door to buy everyday conveniences, they may not come back for pills later.

In June, CVS announced nationwide home delivery for prescription drugs. It and other drugstore chains, including Walgreens (WBA) and Walmart (WMT), are under pressure from online retailers including Amazon, which bought pharmacy startup PillPack in June. In response many retail drugstores have been shifting some of their investments toward health services and away from products.

“We want this to expand nationwide. But we also want to make sure we are ready and prepared and that when we do roll it out nationwide, the program is one that customers can have a great experience with,” CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican told CNBC.