About a year and a half after the debut of its first “wellness store,” Rite Aid Corp. has ushered in the next generation of the concept.


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Rite Aid debuts next generation of wellness store format

October 22nd, 2012

LEMOYNE, Pa. – About a year and a half after the debut of its first “wellness store,” Rite Aid Corp. has ushered in the next generation of the concept.

The drug chain unveiled a new iteration of the wellness format — known internally as “Genuine Well-Being” — this month at a store here, near the company’s Camp Hill, Pa., headquarters.

Executives said the next-gen format brings an enhanced shopping experience — again, focused on the pharmacy — and reinforces the concept’s health and wellness theme.

“The needs of our customers are always changing. Today’s customers want to be empowered as they make choices for themselves and their families. And as a partner on their health care team, we at Rite Aid must adapt and change, too, in order to ensure we’re providing the best service and support to help them reach their wellness goals,” chairman, president and chief executive officer John Standley said at the Lemoyne store’s grand opening. “This new store design, centered on health and wellness, further demonstrates our commitment and truly sets us apart, making us the destination for the heath and wellness needs of our customers and our communities.”

Other top Rite Aid executives at the event included executive vice president of pharmacy Robert Thompson and chief operating officer Ken Martindale, who said the Lemoyne store “puts us in an even better position to take great care of our customers.

“In just a matter of weeks, this store has completely changed from a drug store to a pharmacy of the future,” Martindale noted. “From floor to ceiling, inside and out, from pharmacy to photo, the entire store received a makeover.”

Though the new wellness concept brings some merchandising innovations from Rite Aid, what will stand out most to customers is the store’s fresh presentation, according to Martindale. “We did a lot of research, engaged an outside design firm and really redid the whole look and feel of the store,” he said during a tour of the Lemoyne store.

The exterior sports wood-grain paneling to convey a warm, welcoming feeling, and the store’s offerings — such as a 24-hour pharmacy, drive-through service and a GNC department — are listed on the front paneling so customers see what’s inside.

The interior has undergone a major transformation, featuring a softer look and a more inviting layout that enables customers to easily locate store departments, Martindale said.
The new decor and signage include ceiling ring signs that identify each section of the store — such as beauty, food, home care, wellness and seasonal — as well as lighting fixtures and brand headers across the beauty department, which now has almost a department store look. Overall, the store has a relaxing, warm color palette with serene wood tones and placid lighting.

A highlighted pathway leads from the front door straight to the pharmacy, which has a bolder presentation and signage that make it stand out immediately to customers as they enter the store. Martindale pointed out that the pharmacy area also has been cleared of all adjacent merchandise to create a more open environment.

Next to the pharmacy are a GNC department and a new smoking cessation end-cap, which he said represent key health areas where Rite Aid pharmacists can provide counsel to customers. Other new store features include the following:

• A vision and eye care center with an interactive kiosk that lets customers order prescription glasses and contact lenses online for home delivery and provides eyeglass frames to try on.

• A diabetes diagnostic center, designed to provide a one-stop shop for diabetes patients and their caregivers by offering everything needed to manage diabetes, including blood test meters and testing strips that customers can examine ­firsthand.

• An expanded men’s grooming area with a new Axe display featuring an iPad that lets customers sample a new look.

• A nail bar, located just inside the store entrance, that showcases top brands and the latest polish colors.

• An enhanced hair care aisle with hands-on displays that enable shoppers to pick up and examine hair accessories before purchase.

• A grab-and-go food cooler at the front of the store for quick pick up of consumables such as milk, eggs and yogurt.

Like the original wellness format, the Lemoyne store features “wellness ambassadors,” who work closely with Rite Aid pharmacists and are trained to provide customers with information on over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements. There are also expanded clinical pharmacy services (in such areas as diabetes care, immunizations and medication therapy management) and a consultation room so patients can speak with a pharmacist or get an immunization in private.

According to Martindale, the next-gen concept builds on the original format’s goal of “wellness empowerment” while providing a more pleasing and convenient customer experience.

“We think that out of all the stores we’ve done, the flow and functionality for a customer in this particular store is the best we’ve done,” he said. “One of our main objectives going in was to highlight the pharmacy and build the store around wellness. But one of the other objectives was to make it even easier to shop and for customers to quickly find their way around the store.”

Rite Aid hasn’t set rollout plans for the next-gen wellness concept, but it will be part of the chain’s current wellness store strategy, Martindale said. The retailer has about 570 wellness stores and is aiming for nearly 800 by its fiscal year-end in February 2013.

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