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Peluso speeds CVS’ digital transformation

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A recent study by McKinsey & Co. examines the imperative for technological transformation in retailing. Citing a range of factors that are currently reshaping the industry, the report asserts that a strong foundation in digital technology is essential for driving growth and facilitating the emergence of new business models.

Michelle Peluso

Michelle Peluso

Michelle Peluso, who joined CVS Health at the start of 2021 as chief customer officer and subsequently added the duties of co-president of CVS Pharmacy, is tasked with spearheading the acceleration of the company’s digital transformation. Drawing on expertise and experience garnered during the course of her career, she challenges associates to harness the power of technology in order to create a seamless omnichannel experience for patients and customers.

“I’m proud of our digital colleagues, who continue to think deeply about how we provide new services to consumers,” she says. “As a result of our team’s creativity and hard work, we helped millions of Americans sign up for testing and vaccinations through a seamless digital experience, while also giving consumers the option to pick up the phone and connect with our customer service team to schedule an ­appointment.

“They also created more personalized digital tools like our Health Dashboard to arm consumers with a 360-degree view of their health records, care plans, and their prioritized Next Best Actions — helping them navigate to the right care at the right time. And we enhanced our omnichannel experience, introducing digital-first tools through CVS.com and the CVS Pharmacy app that simplify the process for locating, ordering and picking up at-home COVID-19 test kits with zero up-front out-of-pocket cost. We have since expanded CVS Pharmacy’s Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store offering to allow consumers the ability to shop online and pick up their items at nearly 5,000 participating CVS Pharmacy stores across the country.”

Taken together, those tools are designed to empower customers and enhance synergies across the organization — which includes PBM and health insurance divisions, in addition to the eponymous drug store chain.

“Our ability to connect the dots across touchpoints to enable deep personalization is critical. Our consumers almost always interact with us in more than one way,” says Peluso, who also oversees the company’s advertising and marketing activities.

“Our job is to keep the consumer at the center of everything we do to ensure we make each experience at CVS Health meaningful, seamless and connected.

“Measurement and attribution also present constant opportunities for improvement. Marketers more and more need to become data scientists, and our ability to show the effectiveness of every dollar we spend is critical — that can be difficult with many different consumer touchpoints and different ways of measuring success across channels.”

The importance of effective digital tools is something Peluso knows from firsthand experience. During a 25-year career — beginning with a travel website she founded and subsequently sold to Travelocity, then in C-suite roles at that company, Citigroup, online retailer Gilt Groupe and IBM — Peluso was an active participant as those industries deployed technology to recast the way they interact with consumers. Having seen the rapid evolution of those sectors, she understands the benefits of digital technology and is determined to keep CVS Health on the cutting edge.

Technology is not, however, an end in itself. It is only meaningful in health care and retailing if it is used to address compelling patient and consumer trends, including the way people access goods and services.

“Omnichannel has long been a big one, but during the pandemic the importance of this experience has really exploded,” Peluso says. “So, the ability to ship goods and prescriptions to people’s homes, offer new opportunities for consumer choice such as Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store and, perhaps most of all, integrate virtual care alongside physical care — all of these are increasingly important. I believe our advanced digital capabilities, combined with our unmatched presence in local communities, is a distinct advantage.”

Efforts to build out CVS’ digital-first programs continue. This year the company is expanding Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store to 6,000 stores, and collaborating with Google to make it easier to schedule an appointment at MinuteClinic.

But that’s just the beginning. Peluso has her sights set on the next paradigm shift in technology: “A lot is happening with virtual worlds. We recently filed a trademark that would allow CVS to sell goods and services in the metaverse as we continue to see that trend growing and brands making virtual products more widely available. We’re the first pharmacy to do this.”

Peluso’s skill at keeping abreast of the latest in digital technology, while at the same time never losing sight of the patient and customer, should serve CVS Health well going forward.


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