Fitness and wellness are helping to change the face of retail in 2020.
Consumers are creatures of habit — but those habits can be complex. And, of course, habits vary according to factors like geography, age and even fitness level. Businesses that can tap into those habits can often tap into a gold mine — but doing so can be much harder than it may seem, even for the smartest and most data-driven of entrepreneurs.
That’s the sense one gets after listening to Fritz Lanman, CEO at ClassPass, designed as a one-stop digital shop via which consumers can access gym classes and related programs. During a recent high-energy PYMNTS discussion with Karen Webster, Lanman talked about the value ClassPass brings to the modern health and wellness market, and the lessons the company has learned along the way — lessons that can be applied to other operators in the digital realm.
The appeal to an investor and entrepreneur like Lanman is clear. For starters, the health and wellness trend keeps gaining steam, and there is little doubt that younger consumers will keep that going. In addition, data and tech are at such a point that offering digital and mobile alternatives, and options for fitness-related classes, can be done in a seamless way — a way that includes a seamless payments experience, too. Furthermore, consumers are always looking for variety, and for community — something a digital operation like ClassPass can help build in almost a social media-like way.
Innovation is also taking place within retail brick-and-mortar pharmacies.
One reason for all of that? A looming doctor shortage.
According to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the country will see a scarcity of 46,000 to 130,000 physicians by the end of the next decade — and that shortfall won’t be felt equally. Not only that, but a study from The American Journal of Medicine indicates that market pressures in the industry are pulling doctors away from primary care and into sub-specialties. According to the report, last year the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved 4,697 fellowship programs in 123 different subspecialties.
Minute clinics and other walk-in options offer a faster experience across the board, as well as instant access to a doctor. Although they sacrifice the proven benefits of a close relationship with a trusted internist, they don’t have the short-term pain of long wait times.
Walgreens’ new partnership with VillageMD in the greater Houston area is an interesting attempt to bridge that gap, aiming to offer a “best of both worlds” experience for its customers: the longitudinal benefits of a long-term relationship along with a primary care group and the instant accessibility of a walk-in clinic. VillageMD will operate primary care clinics within five Walgreens stores. The 2,500-square-foot offices will have a separate storefront and a door connecting the two spaces.
Fulfillment, too, is serving as fuel for innovation in this area of retail.
Amazon switched from two-day shipping as its standard base (rapidly followed by Walmart and others), groceries delivered within an hour or two is becoming increasingly mainstream and there are any number of services available to deliver any type of food in an hour or less for a fee. The obvious appeal for consumers is convenience.
But although it is easier to get anything and everything delivered on demand, in the vast majority of cases it is not a matter of life or death. The customer might not want to drive across town to a store to pick up produce, for example, but apart from being inconvenient, it won’t hurt them.
Indeed, the need for medication will never let up, and more consumers — including younger ones — are living healthier lifestyles. That will keep fueling this innovation trend in retail.