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Dive Brief:

  • Walgreens has created a new role — chief format concepts and design officer — that will oversee store design and architecture, the company said in details emailed to Retail Dive.
  • Min Cho, previously vice president of global concepts in the growth and concepts organization at Starbucks, will take on the position at the end of August and report to Chief Customer Officer Tracey Brown.
  • Cho also has experience with Nordstrom, and at Walgreens, he will focus on “innovative store design and architecture which embraces creativity and functionality to put our customers, patients and team members at the center of everything we do,” the company said.

Dive Insight:

Walgreens is investing in its store design with a new role that aims to rethink how the pharmacy chain connects with shoppers in its physical locations.

“Our nearly 9,000 stores are a valuable asset and we must deliver a physical environment that leverages our stores and other locations as vehicles to communicate our company’s culture of caring to customers, patients and team members,” Walgreens said in an email to Retail Dive.

A headshot of Min Cho, an executive at Walgreens.

Cho was previously vice president of global concepts in the growth and concepts organization at Starbucks.

Courtesy of Walgreens


This will be Cho’s directive, and he comes to the position with experience in architecture, store construction and design, as well as time spent developing brand experience strategies. According to some analysts, Walgreens and its drugstore rivals could use some help with in-store experience, especially as they aim to reinvent themselves as healthcare and wellness destinations for shoppers.

“Most drugstores are still badly lit boxes with grey carpet tiles that lock away razor blades and feel completely dispiriting,” GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders told Retail Dive early last year. “They are places to go and feel depressed, not to go and feel well. There is much work to do.”

Over the past few years, though, Walgreens has tried several ways of reinventing its stores. In 2018, the retailer announced it was working on a concept with improved beauty and healthcare offerings and later that same year announced a deal to bring beauty brand Birchbox to some of its stores as a shop-in-shop experience. Two years ago, the retailer opened a slew of small-format pharmacies that featured a limited assortment of products in the health and wellness categories.

Rival CVS has also evolved its store strategy over time, testing out a beauty-focused concept with Glamsquad in 2018 and developing its HealthHub store format that emphasizes healthcare services. More recently, the company announced it would invest in its digital experience as it works to shutter around 900 stores and makes a stronger pivot into healthcare.

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