CVS, the drugstore operator, is testing a program in Boston in which customers get free delivery on prescriptions and online purchases among other perks.
CNBC, citing CVS, reported that the program, which is called CarePass, also includes access to a pharmacy helpline, a 20 percent discount on CVS branded products and a $10 coupon each month. The membership costs $48 a year or $5 a month — lower than what Amazon.com charges for its Prime membership service. The program, which is only being tested in Boston currently, is aimed at pushing back against Amazon since it can bundle prescription drugs with regular, everyday-type items, something Amazon can’t do yet, noted CNBC. It also comes as Amazon is eyeing the drug market in a big way, recently acquiring PillPack, a pharmacy startup. That deal is viewed as a big threat to the pharmacies because it gives Amazon an entrance into prescription drugs. It is forcing the drugstore operators to think outside the box when it comes to launching services and making deals. “We think it’s a one-of-a-kind in the marketplace, but the reason for doing it is the direct response of the interest that our customers have shown us in the program,” CVS Pharmacy president Kevin Hourican told CNBC.
In addition to testing the new membership program, CVS has been diversifying and focusing more on health services. It’s paying $69 billion to acquire health insurer Aetna, which is expected to close in the third quarter. Hourican told CNBC that CVS is aware customers shop at other retailers for the products it sells in its stores and it wants that to change. The membership program is one way to hopefully meet that goal. The CarePass pilot is currently live in 350 stores in and around Boston. “We want this to expand nationwide,” Hourican told CNBC in the report. “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.”