CVS moves to elevate shopping experience

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NEW YORK — CVS Pharmacy has reimagined its store design, highlighting an expanded offering of health and beauty products and “better for you” food products.

The new layout’s “discovery zones” in key health categories take a holistic approach to care and product selections. Together with new health services and innovative digital programs, the changes represent the next evolution of the customer experience at CVS.

“Pharmacy is the heart of our business, and our focus on providing care to patients and customers defines everything we do in our stores,” said CVS Pharmacy president Helena ­Foulkes. “Our new retail offerings leverage our deep expertise in health to enhance our customers’ shopping experience. The same guiding principles that led to the removal of tobacco from our stores extend to our commitment to deliver the most innovative health and beauty ­solutions.”

The expanded health, healthier food and beauty assortment is the latest result of the chain’s front-end growth strategy, which was first introduced in 2015. Today there are over 800 CVS stores nationwide with an elevated design and assortment and over 3,400 with expanded food and beauty offerings. The latest improvements, which will be in up to 70 stores by year-end and could be in hundreds more in 2018, are designed to drive growth in categories that are most closely tied to the company’s health-focused purpose and expertise, while delivering a shopping experience that no other online or brick-and-mortar retailer can replicate.

“We did a lot of research to understand how to best serve our customers as we began to reimagine our store experience, and we found that people are thinking about their health differently and taking a more proactive approach to staying well,” said Judy Sansone, chief merchant and senior vice president of front-store business. “With that in mind, we crafted a new shopping journey, all in the name of better health.”

The new formats present “one message about health in the whole store in all of the different categories,” she said, including over-the-counter products, food and such beauty items as skin care products.

CVS has found out that its pharmacists are fielding questions on skin care every day, she noted. More than 70% are answering a query on O-T-C skin care, “which is a startling number.” So the chain has educated pharmacists on the category, she said, and created a skin care assortment right at the prescription counter.

Overall, the new formats have 100 feet of new merchandise in health, beauty and healthier food and use a streamlined layout to highlight themes to make shopping easier. Informational signage guides customers to optimal choices.

The presentation includes a vast expansion of health offerings with a broader selection of vitamins and supplements, including items from specialty brands such as Irwin Naturals and New Chapter, as well as such nutrition products as Vega and Naturade protein powders and Navitas Organics Superfood Mix Ins. Assortments tied to emerging areas such as connected health, sleep/mood and immunity are merchandised in the discovery zones, which feature easy navigation through educational displays.

As part of CVS’ ongoing beauty shopping enhancement, the mix has new, on-trend beauty brands such as Wunder2 and Tigi Cosmetics, as well as products that have greater skin health benefits and more natural ingredients. To help improve customer exploration and inspiration, a new “trend wall” has been added to 2,000 stores featuring new launches and niche brands. A beauty discovery zone highlights on-the-go options at checkout. The upgrade follows the rollout of the exclusive Korean beauty selection curated by notable K-Beauty expert Alicia Yoon in over 2,100 locations.

Even more “better-for-you” food options are being added, including 27 new items under the exclusive Gold Emblem Abound line. Healthier choices, including Alo Exposed Waters, EPIC bison bars and That’s it. bars will make up about half of food options. Additionally, products that fit nutritional and dietary preferences including heart healthy, good source of protein, gluten free, sugar free, organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, are highlighted with shelf tags.

The catalyst for the evolution of the stores was CVS’ decision in 2014 to stop selling tobacco. Sansone said the elimination oftobacco products was “a pivotal point — the filter we use for what the front store should be as part of our whole ­enterprise.”

Pointing out the importance of customer feedback to the chain, she said that on the day of that announcement on tobacco “customers were very clear that the bar had changed.” They let it be known that “because you’re a health care company we expect more from you, and the first thing we want to see is healthy food.”

Now, in keeping with its commitment to corporate social responsibility, the retailer is taking the following steps:
• Removing certain chemicals from beauty and personal care lines — By the end of 2019, all parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde donors in products within the private label CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, Promise Organic and Blade lines will be removed.
• Development of new standards for vitamins, minerals and supplements with the goal of full implementation by 2019 — The standards will require third-party testing of VMS ingredient listings, as well as product testing for certain ingredients of concern.

CVS was the first national retail pharmacy chain to announce the removal of artificial trans fats from all exclusive store brand food products. In addition, the company recently removed all sun care products with SPF lower than 15 while expanding products with SPF 30/broad spectrum, natural beauty brands and products focused on skin health.



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