The company is competing against the likes of Amazon, which bought PillPack for $1B this summer
There seems to be a race right now in the pharma space to offer the fastest on-demand delivery option. And the competition is heating up.
Not only do you have startups raising funding, such as Alto, which just this week raised a $50 million funding round, and Capsule, which also raised $50 million over the summer, but you also have the big players in the space also making moves. CVS, for example, teamed up with the United States Postal Service earlier this year to offer home delivery of prescription drugs.
Not to be outdone, now Walgreens has struck a similar partnership for its prescription delivery service, announcing on Thursday that it has partnered with FedEx to deliver drugs to patients next-day.
This is not the first time that Walgreens and FedEx have partnered; last year they unveiled a collaboration to offer FedEx drop off and pick up at more than 7,000 Walgreens stores across the country. Now the deliveries will be made faster than they were previously.
"This announcement builds upon the collaboration and our existing platform, where FedEx team members are in our stores multiple times per day, so the handling and delivery of prescriptions will be a very efficient and fast process, consistent across the nation," Morry Smulevitz, VP of Business and Operations Communications at Walgreens, told me.
"Our goal is to make filling prescriptions as fast and easy as possible for patients. Nationwide home delivery with FedEx is a key driver in our efforts to develop and expand omni-channel capabilities as we evolve our model to meet customers changing needs and expectations."
The new next-day service is called Walgreens Express, and users will be charged a fee of $4.99 to get their drugs delivered to their door the day after they order them, though this only applies to orders placed by 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To access Walgreens Express, patients just need to be able to receive text message notifications; they can join the service by texting JoinRx to 21525. Patients will get a text when their prescriptions are ready and they can then choose between a home delivery option or express pickup in-store.
"Following a simple process on their mobile device, patients can prepay for their medication and define their delivery or pickup location. Of course, traditional in-store and drive through pick-up services continue as well, for those who prefer," Smulevitz explained.
In addition to the next-day service, the company is also offering same day delivery in certain markets, which Walgreens says it will be expanding in the coming year. Right now, same day delivery is only available in Dallas, Chicago, New York City, Gainesville, Miami, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale.
With all of the competition in the pharma delivery space, Walgreens has to be able to keep up, and offering a smaller delivery window is one way to stay in-line, if not ahead, of the competition. Of course, the elephant in the room, and the company that all of these players, are competing against is Amazon, which spent $1 billion to buy PillPack in June. And that development is going to shake-up the space for all pharma delivery companies, large and small.
"Our goal is to continue to evolve our model to meet customers changing needs and expectations, including the way customers and patients want to access new healthcare services. Going forward, we will continue to transform our pharmacies to create neighborhood healthcare destinations that offer a wide range of accessible health and well-being services," said Smulevitz.