In this episode:
Wendy Liebmann interviews Matthew Parry, Former Senior Director II of Customer Experience at Walmart Health & Wellness, about how the largest retailer in the world is disrupting everyday health care.
- Walmart’s strategy to build personal health care solutions – from clinics to the whole store
- New customer purchasing behaviors inside and outside the store
- How COVID-19 has forced Walmart to leapfrog 5 years into the future
- And lots more
To see our Retail Safari® A Look Inside Walmart Health Center, click here.
What’s the Future Shop Podcast with WSL all about?
Our podcast focuses on how shoppers are transforming retail and what you need to do about it.
Retail strategist and shopping futurist Wendy Liebmann shares her passionate, unvarnished shopper-centric view of where retail is headed. She interviews experts in retail, marketing, insights, design, education, and more. And she and the WSL team regularly share excerpts from WSL’s latest proprietary shopper research about what’s coming next.
The Future Shop Podcast is a no-holes barred view of what shoppers want, what you need to deliver, who’s getting it right, and who’s getting it wrong. And why. In this fast and furious view, you will begin to understand how to anticipate the future that’s emerging right under your nose.
WSL Strategic Retail is a leader in shopper insights and retail strategy. It helps clients around the world anticipate change in order to grow in the near and longer-term. It is recognized for its ground-breaking How America Shops® and How the World Shops research.
Don’t miss upcoming episodes, stay up-to-date by visiting the WSL Shopper Insights Library, or our Podcast page.
Wendy Liebmann: Hello, my name is Wendy Liebman. I’m the CEO and Chief shopper of WSL Strategic Retail. And this is Future Shop.
This is where I have a fast and furious sometimes no holds barred, often, conversation with experts in the field of retailing shopping, consumer products, where we talk about the future of retail and so I’m really thrilled today to have my guest, Matthew Parry. Matt is the Senior Director of Customer Experience at Walmart. He leads the design and strategy for Walmart’s overall health and wellness division, including the development of the retailer’s new Walmart health store format.
You know, what’s interesting is, over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about health, no surprise and the future of healthcare retail, not only because obviously we’re living in the middle of a health crisis, but because even before the Coronavirus hit us, in our How America Shops® research that we do continually throughout the year, we saw that nearly three quarters of Americans were actively engaged in taking care of their own health and wellness. It was really a social movement that had emerged over the last four or five years that we have been following in our, our research.
And what was interesting about that we’ve sort of seen this move from what we called sick care, to well care and this shifting shopper mindset, and that was all pre coded. You know, we saw that consumers around the country were very focused on thinking about the health and well being in in broad ways, everything from their physical and mental health, to preventative actions and activities from yoga to try to eat healthier to reading the ingredients in their packages of food and other products. Even thinking about sustainability and what they put in themselves and put in the ground, if you will, and that sort of overall well being of their communities, their families, their worlds.
But it was more than just sort of our high income, aren’t we precious movement. It was really a very broad based movement that we we saw, we saw it, in fact, in lower income households around the country, there was even a greater urgency for to find ways not to get sick. I mean, obviously, for many reasons, the cost of health care in this country, the accessibility of affordable health care, even things like job security, how do I keep my job if I’m an hourly worker, and maybe don’t have health care benefits?
Fast forward to today and we see in our latest how America shop study that we’ve just published that 71% of Americans are now afraid. They’re going to catch the Coronavirus. So we went from this sort of lifestyle wellness movement to this health emergency literally within a matter of months. So that imperative to be well, and the role that we can all play, really the role retailers in this country can play to help people be well now and in the future is greater than ever before.
What I am going to tell you today because of the guest I have with me is how one of the largest companies in the world largest retailer in the world is actually going about that. Hello, Matt. Welcome to Future Shop.
*Matt Parry: Well, thank you so much, Wendy. It’s a real great honor to be here. And it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
It is amazing, you know, when you and I step back and think about the last time we saw each other was December in New York, when we did our big business of well symposium. And then we were supposed to meet in February or early March and go down to see one of your new concept stores and the flights got canceled and then the world got canceled. So I’m so thrilled to have you here today. Thank you. And for those of you listening, Matt and I first met when we worked together when he was running customer experience on the other side of the store, or the big store, and we were fixated on how we build a magic box was a term we developed. So now we need to build a magic health box. I think that’s it. So but more of that later, but Matt, are you will and your family well?
*Yes, we are. Thank you. I mean, obviously, this is a crazy time. But, you know, we are with we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do with socially distancing. We’re wearing masks when we go out. And you know, you know, actually, I think my kids and my wife are actually enjoying having me at home while they were enjoying, I think, month three, I think it starts to wear a bit thin, but yes, no, we’re both. Well, thank you for it. We’re all well rather, thank you for asking.
So could we start briefly at the beginning? Could you talk a little bit, give us a snapshot of this new I call it new, Walmart’s health and wellness strategy that evolved certainly into the stores. But obviously it’s a bigger platform than that. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how it all came about?
*Yeah, yeah, I’d love to. I mean, it’s been a fascinating journey. And my role in it started, actually at the start about two and a half years ago. But you know, prior to that Walmart has, as you rightly just said, Walmart actually has a pretty rich history in health and wellness. We actually opened our first pharmacy back in 1974. And right now today, we have nearly 5000 pharmacies, we do about 425 million prescriptions a year. We also have nearly 3000 vision centers, and of course, for all of our customers, over the counter medications play a really important role in how they, they make healthcare work for them. So we’ve had a rich history in health and wellness
*But about two and a half years ago when our CEO Sean Slovenski, joined Walmart, health and wellness, it really was a desire from the business but also from the family to say, how could we help alleviate some of the struggles people have with health care? I mean, we’re a retailer, but every week we have 130 million customers come through our doors 90% of America live within, you know, 10 miles of a Walmart. And so, you know, what could we do to help healthcare so we did what any, any good kind of marketer or any good customer experience person would do. We want to talk to the customers we actually talked to 27,000 customers over a period of about six months, a lot of that was quantitative online, but a lot of in stores, shop-alongs, in homes, you know, just talking to our customers and what they told us was healthcare today is just so confusing, so complex, so expensive. It’s inconvenient. They felt like a number.
*They were challenges that, you know, Walmart has always had kind of, you know, it’s baked into our DNA to go up against big challenges and leverage our scale for good. On top of having this pharmacy offering and our vision center, what you know, the customer research told us and talking to these customers was, there really was an opportunity to come in and really disrupt around healthcare offerings, especially around everyday healthcare. So, you know, the opportunity for us wasn’t so much in offering specialist care, you know, cancer care or anything like that, that that is the preserve of the hospital and the established healthcare community. But for everyday health care needs, things like primary care visits, dental, optical, audiology, just those things that you do every day, there was a real opportunity for Walmart to come in and innovate.
*So that quickly developed into the Walmart Health concept. And you know that that concept we first opened in September of 2019, or first door in Dallas, Georgia. And for those who, you know, obviously haven’t had a chance to see that or get down there. It’s about a 12,000 square foot facility. It offers a number of key services, anchored around obviously primary care, it is not just an urgent care facility, it is a primary care so you can go for wellness checks, maintenance checks. But on top of that, we actually went back to some of the, the basic concept that Mr. Sam had when he built the Supercenter which was a one stop shop. So when you talk about everyday health, one of the things that you know, comes to mind is not just your primary care, but dental, you know, optical needs, audiology, physical therapy and so, you know, there are a number of services in there that we were able to put together so you can go and get a dental checkup for $25, we offer behavioral health for $1 a minute.
*So that was our first kind of, you know, our first clinic that opened in Dallas, Georgia. And it was really built on three core pillars. And that’s really where I spent most of my time. Because when we talk to the customers, they talked to us about these three pillars. It’s and they were cost, convenience, and care. And that and that’s really where they saw the key opportunity. How do you bring something that’s more affordable, more convenient, and that truly cares for me as a patient. So that was the model we built down in Dallas, Georgia in 2019. It was a as I say, a 12,000 square foot clinic with multiple services with a real focus on price and affordability. So even if you didn’t have insurance, you could see a doctor for $40 for a primary care visit. Even if you don’t have dental insurance, it’s $25 for a cleaning and exam.
*And if you don’t have insurance, behavioral health is $1 a minute, which is about 50% of the cost of anywhere. Now, if you have insurance, we still take insurance. And your cost could be lower than that. But this is really about disrupting the industry and bringing an affordable, accessible solution to really help bridge that gap to affordable health care.
So how many I know you you’ve opened several stores in Georgia and I and I think I read that you’re about to open in Florida, right? That’s right. That’s right. How many stores Do you have open now?
*So right now today, we have four stores open. We have three in the state of Georgia, Dallas, Calhoun and Loganville. We also have open one in Northwest Arkansas and our own sort of backyard in Elm Springs Road in Springdale. And yes, you’re absolutely correct. We were excited to announce that on top of moving into expanding rather our offering in Georgia. We’re also going to be moving into the state of Florida. And we also announced a few weeks ago that we’re also going to put in a Walmart health clinic in the stores that were rebuilding in inner city, Chicago. So there’s some of the stores that were heavily impacted, you know, by some of the riots and the movements. And as we rebuild those stores for those communities where it’s desperately needed, one of the things that we’re really excited about is being able to bring affordable health care to those communities. Because that just helps, you know, this whole conversation around bringing equity into various communities that have been affected.
*So yeah, so we’ve got there’s a lot of things moving right now. Wendy, it’s incredibly exciting. You know, we publicly shared the final number, but let’s just say at the end of the year, we’ll have a lot more Walmart clinics open than we have today.
I know there’s been an evolution and learning even before the pandemic from store one to store four. What are the things that have stood out for you, as we’ve come into and moving through the pandemic, at least in two ways in the in the stores themselves and Walmart health? And what have you learned, and also the implications for the rest of the store and how things have changed there?
*You know, if you want to talk about innovation and accelerating trends COVID has we think COVID has jumped us about five years in multiple ways across the box, and even in Walmart house. So the first thing I’d say is these were always designed to be prototype stores. So they were designed to be learning labs as we optimize our model and rapidly expand. So for instance, Dallas was 12,000 square feet, Elm Springs is about seven 8000 square feet. So we’re testing different sizes.
*Dallas is a what we call an out of box. It’s attached, but it’s outside the core box. Elm Springs is completely inside the box. So you although you have to have a separate entrance, which is important to our customers, because if you’re sick, you don’t want to have to go on a trek round a huge Walmart Supercenter. But equally, it connects inside and much better to our things like pharmacy and optical. So these are always designed as prototypes. But you’re absolutely right. COVID has had a profound impact on customers, on our business and on Walmart health.
*So I’ll talk first of all, a little bit about Walmart health, and I’ll expand it out. So, you know, actually what we saw initially was actually a decline in numbers, which seems proper in terms of appointments, which may seem counterintuitive, but actually, what you saw is as people became concerned about their health care, and concerned about catching potentially the virus, they actually pulled back from anything that wasn’t urgent care. So initially, we saw kind of a decline in our numbers.
*Then what you saw is as a state open back up, those sort of visits came back because people do still need to have elective treatments, they do still want to do maintenance. So, so that was one thing we saw. The next thing we saw was just how people don’t want to obviously come in and wait in the waiting room and sit around with other people. So you know, you heard me talk earlier about convenience being one of our key pillars. Online scheduling was something we built in from the start and what you started to see is, whereas before we had about a 40-60%, mix, 40% walk-ins 60% were, you know, scheduled in advance that shifted to about 90% scheduling. So people didn’t want to walk in they wanted to know they had an appointment. They wanted to minimize that time in that space.
*And then you know, one of the other phenomenons in terms of healthcare is, you know, tele health. Right now in our clinics, we have a very limited telehealth offering. It’s it’s around specialisms but it’s something we’re actively engaged in. Because I, you’ve probably seen the same report I have, McKenzie published a report, you know, I think probably in around April, May. And they saw that 46% of customers, nearly 50% of consumers had switched one or more of their medical appointments to a telehealth visit. You talk about driving trial of something COVID just took you from where it was before ending 5 to 20% to 50%. overnight. More importantly, 76% of people said that they would use telehealth in the future. So you’ve undoubtedly in healthcare seen a massive shift over there. You know, and then thinking about the broader box, we’ve just seen, you know, so many impacts. And I talked about that earlier in terms of leapfrogging about 5 years. I mean, I think anybody who studies retail would have seen the jump to grocery pickup and delivery and our business and we published our first quarter results, we’re about to publish our second quarter, you know.
*In the first quarter, you just saw phenomenal growth in online ordering curbside pickup delivery. And that trend continues. And I think virtually anybody reporting in the grocery space is seeing that same trend. So you’re seeing that customers want to shift to contact list pay, they want to shift to delivery methods that they want. And I’m sure Wendy, you would agree that is actually just you, although it’s been given a shot of steroids. That was a trend that had been growing ongoing. It’s just we gave it a you know, as I say, it’s short at the moment. The other thing we’re seeing is people really do want to go truly contactless. So even in experiences like drive thru pharmacy have seen a huge increase in our drive thru business. We also added curbside pickup for pharmacy so you could come in park in a parking lot and have your RX delivered to your car, that people don’t even want to touch anything. So they don’t want to touch devices. They don’t want to use money.
*So, you know, Walmart pay contactless payment systems and new technology we you know, I think we’ve dropped about four different tech updates over this period just to meet that demand. So it is having a profound effect that you know, it is also affecting what people buy and you know, everyone’s aware of the toilet paper kind of, you know, phenomenon early on. Then we went through that people going into hair color that weren’t going to the salons, you know, you couldn’t get a bicycle for about till about October because that and so you know, you’re seeing it changing purchase patterns you’re seeing it changing how people shop you’re seeing it how they use technology.
*And some of these will stick some of these will probably return as we eventually get back to a new form of normality but it’s had profound effects I think across and I don’t think any of us yet know quite how that will play out.
Do you see are you seeing in the in the holistic view of health and wellness and customer experience that people are I mean I know we’ve seen things like vitamins and immunity products increase Are you seeing both through the health stores and the total store and other things category surprises or people thinking about other ways of prevention that that you know are emerging that you had or had not seen before.
*It’s funny the categories that will pop I mean, you’re absolutely right vitamins, immunity pills like I don’t think you can get airborne anywhere today the vitamin kind of supplement, you try and go and get elderberry extract or elderberry, but they’re very hard to get. And I think it has it’s driven kind of people, you know, across the board to really reevaluate what health and wellness is one of the things we really learned from our research was that, you know, health and wellness isn’t just going to the doctor and or isn’t just taking a vitamin, it’s a really complex ecosystem for the customer. And each person figures out their own way of making it work where depending on whether you’re managing a chronic condition, whether you’re relatively healthy, whether you you’re a fitness enthusiast, it’s a very personal piece that you have to build up for you.
*What we’re seeing during COVID times is, you know, people are, you know, the moment something comes out that you should be taking there. So this could work, people are jumping on it. And so, you know, it’s very hard to predict kind of patterns around what people are doing. And so, you know, yes, we’re seeing some, you know, you’re seeing some strange purchasing, you’re seeing some spikes in areas, but you know, it still goes down to broadly people, people want to stay healthy, to be healthy, and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to kind of do that.
The other thing I was thinking a lot about, because I was very taken with your behavioral health model and pricing system when you first talked about it, we talked about it last year, the issues around mental health, which were clearly issues in the country, they seem to have really been ramped up. We’re seeing concerns of that in our How America Shops® research. Are you seeing there that as people think about services in the health stores.
*I mean, yeah, the answer is yes. And, you know, behavioral health is, what is something that we’re particularly proud of, is he as you highlighted $1 a minute it’s, it’s a huge need. It’s a huge global need Actually, it’s not an they’re a unique American phenomenon, you know, you know, we’ve had many conversations in the past, you know, mental health and behavioral health was always one of those issues that people never felt really be comfortable about yet it has such an impact on healthcare and having it in the facility was fantastic because it enabled us to do this kind of connected health care. And we had phenomenal stories of people coming in who thought they were, you know, sick and ended up also being offered behavioral health counseling, I’m really helped that kind of overall healthcare because it’s there. It’s convenient. There’s no stigma attached to it doesn’t say psychology services or you don’t go into a dedicated building, it’s just Walmart health, right?
*So we’ve seen a real you know, uptick in in our usage of the behavioral health services and yes in like vitamins like there’s other pieces you know, there is this this kind of focus on on “well health”. I mean, I think, you know, everybody can say they’ve been affected in some way I mean, the, you know, the stay at home orders, the working from home the, you know, having to, if you’ve got children having to educate your children but manage your household, concerns around the economy, concerns around this. I mean, it is, it is an incredibly stressful time to kind of exist.
And I think a lot about the Walmart customer, I know sometimes we misinterpret the fact that we assume they’re all, you know, lower income households. And we know that’s actually not the case necessarily, especially in these times when people are looking for, you know, values and they’re becoming more frugal but for the lower income audience that you have, and particularly when many of them are hourly workers or essential workers, the challenges for them and how are you thinking about that in terms of affordability, you know, across the whole platform, the whole Walmart brand, and the accessibility in terms of either categories or services, pharmacy vision, fitness equipment, any anything that might, you know, pets, anything that might be really important for them.
*COVID has, I would say obviously impacted our thinking. And actually helped us accelerate in some areas, but it hasn’t massively changed a lot of the offerings yet. I mean, obviously, we’re still kind of three, four months in, although it feels a lot longer. A couple of things I would say. One is, you know, affordability was always at the heart of the model. It’s the heart of the Walmart model, right? How do we save people money so they can live better. And so we’re proud of our, our low price, affordable health care offer offerings. So that is that that sits at the core of our health clinic model.
*And you know, and I talked a little bit about this is a learning lab for us. So, you know, we are testing new services all the time. If you go into Elm Springs, you’ll see that we’ve added nutrition into our service offering now, because we all know that food is medicine, food is how food has such a huge impact on your overall wellbeing and healthy. And often people don’t even realize the offerings that we have in store and just how to buy and eat healthier. So we’re testing a lot of different services. You know, you’ll see in the first one we brought Tivity Health and they offered things like Zumba classes and Silver Sneakers in the store. We’ve we’ve got some tests with other companies coming up that we’ll announce shortly.
The other thing you’ve said in terms of the newer formats, the smaller formats and what you’re doing in Chicago putting this in the store, it always seemed to me Walmart had a tremendous advantage because you talked about food. And I remember all the work you’ve been doing for a long time around organics and healthier food options, fresh, more fresh. And I think about every part of the store, we’ve you and I’ve talked a lot about customer experience and all those touch points around the store, and especially when it comes to health and wellness, I think about there’s so many areas and categories in your stores, whether it’s mental health and greeting cards or pets, or it’s, you know, technology and fitbits or it’s food or OTC the obvious and the less obvious, right categories that make us happy.
That ability to connect all of those pieces within that framework of affordable healthcare was always an incredibly powerful platform. That seems to me even more so, as you as you look at the next year or so, is that am I jumping the gun and anticipating things that you’re not ready to do yet or talk about?
*No. And I think you’ve made an exceptionally good point. And an absolutely. In fact, from the outset, one of the reasons we started to look at healthcare was not just because we believed we could make an impact on people’s health care, which we believe we do by having more affordable accessible health care, but it’s also about how we make build, you know, a total ecosystem that provides solutions to the customers. So you know, on the one hand, yes, we need to make the vertical of the health clinic be the best warm up health clinic we can build. So it’s got to be convenient and affordable and truly caring staff who guide you through the process, but then it’s got to connect to the horizontal and so yes, how can we use the nutritionist in Elm Springs to help you are recently diagnosed diabetic by better choices, and then connect to our, you know, our online grocery offering and have that delivered.
*How can we help you, if you’ve got a pharmacy script, understand different choices, lifestyle choices you can make or if you’re on Medicaid and Medicare, what sort of devices or fitness equipment that you could use. So, you know, that was always part of the big picture, which is creating solutions for our customers around their health care. Remember I said health care is it’s a matrix. It’s an ecosystem that you build solutions around, but it’s complex. And so if someone can come in and make those connections for you, all the better now, I will tell you, we’ve been focused initially on building that vertical right? So you know, we’ve done a lot of work on getting the customer experience, right, the model, right? The training, the right associates, all of those pieces, because if you don’t have credible quality care, like nobody wants cheap health care, right? That doesn’t work and the app breaks and, you know, we’re out of stock of your dentist or you know, I’m being flipped.
*But you’ve got make the verticals work. And so we’ve really been focused on that. But as we start to evolve our model and get it to a scalable stage, then you know, all of that other work and all of the unlock around the big picture and connectivity into the store is a really exciting area that we’d already started working on. But I think we’ll expand.
One of the things you said, when you spoke at our symposium in December was this issue and you talked about it here, trust. And you made the comment then, as I recall that, you know, people said, “Listen, we can’t trust you to get us out through the checkout. So why are we trusting you with our health?” How has that changed? How has it evolved? How are you focusing on that? What does that mean now not in the whole experience of pre COVID, COVID Customer Experience, right?
*Yeah. I mean, you’re absolutely right. Trust was a big issue when we started out this research. I mean, you know, just you know, I always like to be transparent like you do, Wendy. I mean, if you go talk to people, listen, they’ll be honest with you. And Walmart is a great place to shop. It has fantastic assortment. It has fantastic prices. We have many great associates who do an amazing job every day. But it also has some baggage, and you articulate some of the main ones, you know, not all not all of our associates, and not every interaction is always what we’d want it to be. And so, you know, there is this piece around Walmart isn’t as friendly as people would love it to be. Equally Yeah, long lines. When you have a product that people want. Unfortunately, sometimes that means you go in and you line up. So you have these you do have these negative stereotypes that exist, some of them based on experience, some of them just that pervade over, over and so when we talk to customers.
*Yeah, I mean, you hit on the quote, which is one of my favorite, which is “I can’t trust you to have my pasta sauce or my pasta sauce in stock. How are you ever going to run a health clinic?” So we really doubled down on that with a lot of customers in terms of the research and the proposition so everything from making sure it is incredibly clean, you know, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, double cleaning housekeeping stuff like that. We only employ credible medical professionals, they’re all board certified. And but you know, we advertised that we put that up everywhere the certificate stuff like that. So there were a number of things we did to really negate some of that and, and the feedback from customers going in is that, you know, wow, I expected it to be you know, low cost. I expected it to be affordable.
*I didn’t expect the service to be this good, the people to be this good. The convenience be so good. And when we started talking about it, they will come for the price but they’ll only come back for the service and if they felt cared for so all of that stuff existed and we really doubled down on that to build that credibility gap. What we’ve seen during COVID is you know, actually Walmart has come out very positively in a number of ways during COVID. In terms of in you only need to go read the business press or you know, you know, generic press actually around the response that we’ve taken in terms of extra cleaning shifts we now closed at 830. Every evening we do extensive cleaning all night we clean multiple times during the day. We recently announced a master ordinance in our stores which you’re required to wear a mask we’ve really invested in our associates, in thanking them and rewarding them. I talked about the health care benefits, zero co pays on the Walmart insurance but you know also things around you know, flexibility around schedules flexibility around sick pay release.
*So, you know, actually Walmart has got a lot of plaudits for that and you know, and then the knock on effect of that is it builds credibility in our offerings like health care. And, you know, I’ve talked to a lot of customers since we’ve opened these and as I said, At first they were like this, this is way better than I expected. And you know, when you keep coming back, it’s like a bank account, right? The more you pay in, the more it grows and your trust level builds. And, you know, early on, we said, this is an opportunity for us to change people’s perception of the brand if there is a negative perception, because we’re going to do, we’re going to build on the great asset and the great heritage we have as a company and you know, in in friendly associates and, you know, affordable prices and all under one roof.
What do you see there? You know, in health and wellness and in general and customer experience, it’s really stood out for you that that you you’re going to focus on or you’re thinking about now.
*So the customer has change. And as we talked at the start, there are some things that we’ll probably try and go back to normal, but a lot of things won’t. So I think now more than ever, the expectation on organizations on companies to deliver not just okay, but great will get higher and higher. And so you know, things like people expecting digital solutions that work every single time and solutions that actually add value to their time. So, you know, at the moment, you can schedule an appointment online, which we’re really proud of, but you can’t do it for family members, you have to do it multiple times for different family members. So I don’t think that the customer will put up with that they’ll expect if they want to bring their kids for a wellness checkup, they’re going to be able to do it in one go. So that’s one bucket.
*I think the other thing is people are going to expect in health care for you know, for just more safe contactless opportunities to get their health care in ways that make them feel safe. And so we’re going to have to look at like you know in the first store we built huge waiting rooms well with people that want to wait in huge waiting rooms that they never wanted to wait a year. So how can you use technology? How can you use solutions because telehealth will play a huge role it will get bigger but it’s hard to do a dental cleaning by telehealth right you do need to go in and dental health makes a big difference. So you know how are we going to innovate in those areas to create almost like a zero wait time and we’re already working on that and thinking about different ways to do that. Fundamentally when you think about the box as well as we talked about earlier, you know, there’s this great phrase I love which is liquid expectations. A customer does not come into a Walmart and think and just benchmark it against other retailers they go in there expectations are liquid if they go to Disney and have an amazing experience with associates it’s why can’t that why can’t warm up be like that.
*They use the chick fil a app, and it’s brilliant. And then somebody brings it to their car. Why can’t Walmart do that? And so, you know, what I think you’re going to see in customer experiences, the importance of us being able to articulate what is the customer’s need, not just today, but tomorrow, and then really ideate around what are those solutions that will help us not just stay with the pack, but actually get ahead and here’s, here’s a great example with pharmacy. So one of the things that happened during pharmacy COVID is people obviously want didn’t want to come in and pick up prescriptions. So we saw a huge jump in people moving to three month prescriptions as opposed to one month, but we also saw a lot of people wanting to have it delivered. So you saw a lot of the industry move to new fulfillment methods. So they partnered with instacart to do same day delivery. You know, Costco, for instance, actually partnered with instacart and dropped the 7.99 delivery fee for their RX.
*So there’s a great example of where the customer is demanding a better experience. And you’ve not just got to meet that experience, you’ve actually got to anticipate and exceed that. And so, you know, another great example is, you know, flu vaccinations this year, we expect this to be the single biggest year for flu vaccinations in the history of the United States. Why? Well, because people are very concerned about their health and be it will have a huge impact on the healthcare industry and hospitals if we have a double whammy of COVID and flu. So everybody is going to be pushing Well, that’s great. But right now in Walmart, for instance, you can’t schedule a flu vaccine. So we’re going to have to innovate around different ways to meet that demand, and the customers are going to expect that experience to be great.
Man, I can’t thank you enough for this. This has been very kind of you to spend all this time with us and take us on the journey that you’ve been on over the last couple of years. It really is an extraordinary experience. So, thank you so much for all of this. It’s lovely to see you be well, and we will talk soon.
*Thank you, Wendy. It was a real pleasure.
So here’s the thing. You know, it’s very clear from what Matt said that we should never underestimate the power of a crisis to disrupt your strategy, or the speed at which you’re doing things. You know, Matt was very clear that the Coronavirus has jumped Walmart by five years in ways big and small. And that’s the sort of thing we all need to think about everything from the size of the box to telehealth and communications, the way people engage all of these things are being relooked at now at Walmart within their concept of health and wellness.
The other thing to think about, which was also evident is this notion about Walmart is thinking about shopper led strategies, which of course is very close to my heart and our heart and the impact of what comes next through that lens becomes really important. And he talked a lot about shopper led solutions. So if you do business with Walmart, think about that.
I think the other thing is this notion about the unintended consequences, and you may be listening to this and you’re not in the pharmacy business. And you think that’s not about me, but think about what he said. He said, more and more people want to pick up their prescriptions curbside. So those people who are picking up curbside are not walking into the store every month, or even every three months. And they’re not walking down the OTC aisle or the personal care aisle or the beauty aisle or any other aspect of that store. Pharmacy has been a driver for a long time. And now it may be less so and that will impact your business.
The other thing he talked about was the sort of health and wellness ecosystem and the complexity of it, and how actually Walmart things not just about this new health concept, but actually about the whole box.
That’s a really good guide as you think about solutions in your aisles in the store across the box. And last but not least, the sort of critical vertical and horizontal approach they’re taking. It’s all the constituents. It’s the customer, it’s the associates. So how do you deliver a health and wellness proposition thinking not only about the people you’re selling to, but also your people who are doing the selling. So that’s the thing. When the largest retailer in the world talks about disruption, we all need to pay attention. And if Matt’s true to his word, and I know he is that this force leap five years ahead is something we all have to think about.
So thanks for joining Future Shop. If you want to look at photos of Walmart Health, go to our website, www.wslstrategicretail.com/wellness and you’ll be able to also sign up for our blog and our weekly updates, WhatsApp and see our latest research. Thanks again, see you in the future.