Rite Aid soft launched its new website and mobile app on the heels of a 28% spike in digital sales in its fourth quarter, and is opening 11 new COVID-19 testing sites this week.
The drugstore retailer saw the digital spike, driven by digital refills, in the last quarter of its fiscal year 2020, which ended February 29.
“In light of the current environment it's worthy to emphasize that we continue to strengthen our e-commerce capabilities to accelerate the growth we're already seeing,” COO Jim Peters said during the retailer’s earnings call.
Rite Aid reported a wider-than-expected net loss in the quarter and, while its comparable front-end sales jumped 33% in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, it expects this boon to be “tempered by a decline” in front-end sales during the remainder of Q1, 2021 due to social distancing measures in stores and a moderation in prescriptions.
Rite Aid has been researching and developing its new website and app for months and Peters said the two have an “entirely new look and feel, and an enhanced consumer experience.” New features include intuitive navigation, more transparent rewards and loyalty benefits, a more user-friendly online shopping cart, prescription reminders for digital pharmacy accounts, and more.
“We’ll begin promoting this new site and app to consumers in just a few weeks and both will undoubtedly play a key role in creating a more personalized experience, experience that are seamlessly connected to our all touch points,” Peters said. “This launch is of course not a ‘launch and done,’ but rather an early step in a digital journey that positions us to leapfrog our competition in delivering an omnichannel experience never before seen in the retail pharmacy segment.”
Rite Aid has also added self-checkouts to 260 stores and is planning to add the technology to an additional 400 locations in its full year 2021. The retailer has also recently expanded its pilot with Instacart.
“In addition, we recently completed a successful power to pay and go to expedite prescription pick up both in-store and at the drive through,” Peters said. “We are now in the process of expanding this service across our store footprint with an expected completion date of April 30. And we continue to pursue new capabilities for consumers to buy-online-pickup-in-store.”
Rite Aid expects to spend $350 million on fiscal 2021 cap ex, concentrated on investments and technology. This number may be impacted by delays in store remodeling plans, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that are expected in fiscal 2021.
Rite Aid Adds 11 More COVID-19 Testing Sites
Rite Aid has taken a number of steps amid the coronavirus pandemic, including implementing Hero Pay and Hero Bonus programs, adding a senior shopping hour, and announcing plans to hire 5,000 full-time and part-time workers.
It also continues to open on-site COVID-19 testing sites through its partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Wednesday, April 22, the retailer will open 11 new locations, bringing the total open sites to 24 store locations in eight states.
Rite Aid’s self-testing sites will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week, and expect to be able to conduct approximately 200 tests each day through online appointments. In total, Rite Aid will have the capacity to conduct nearly 5,000 tests daily across all locations.
The testing will take place in each store’s parking lot and locations utilize self-swab nasal tests overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists. As part of the testing process, people must remain in their vehicles from the time they arrive and until they depart.
Testing eligibility is based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can be found here. Testing will be available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the CDC. Patients are required to provide government issued identification, be at least 18 years old and need to pre-register online at www.riteaid.com in order to schedule a time slot for testing.
The new Rite Aid COVID-19 self-swab testing site locations opening on the 22 include:
Dover, DE: 200 Pharmacy Drive in Smyrna
Boise, ID: 3250 S. Eagle Road in Meridian
Grand Rapids, MI: 5995 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE in Kentwood
Saginaw, MI: 4598 State Street in Saginaw
Central, NJ: 31 Mule Road in Toms River
Albany, NY: 1863 Central Avenue in Colonie
Akron, OH: 4053 South Main Street in Akron
Youngstown, OH: 713 North State Street in Girard
Erie, PA: 5430 Peach Street in Erie
Scranton, PA: 20 South River Street in Plains
Virginia Beach, VA: 2293 Upton Drive in Virginia Beach