Within hours of each other this week, the low-cost leader and the online giant were both making news for their growing efforts to lower prices in what has become the new frontier for drug war.
“We’re on a journey to make healthcare more accessible and affordable,” Walmart EVP of Health and Wellness Dr. Cheryl Pegus blogged of the company’s new “Rx For Less” service that will be available to its Walmart+ subscription members.
“We believe pharmacy can be better,” Amazon countered of its new prescription offer that touts meds as low as $1 per month and free two-day shipping.
The dual move to go deeper into medications is consistent with the broader efforts both companies are making to not only increase their stable of offerings in the healthcare industry — which happens to account for 20 percent of US GDP — but comes at a time the role of the physical pharmacy is changing.
From COVID tests to vaccines, to in-store clinics, dentistry, mental health screening and drugs, both companies — as well as the traditional CVS and Walgreens of the world — see the opportunity to reinvent one of the most expensive and convoluted segments of the economy, while also embracing a business that drives customer loyalty and increased spending.
Expect to see both companies fortifying their troops as this war over drugs is still in its early stages.
Try This, Sell That
Amazon’s ever-increasing line of business ventures saw it launch a car rental service in the UAE.
“Amazon Home Services gives [customers] an alternative option to traditional car hire, eliminating the hassle of queuing, having to travel to get their rental car, or paying a hefty security deposit,” Amine Mamlouk of Amazon Middle East and North Africa told local news site The National.
While Amazon offers car rental bookings and discount deals in the U.S. through partners such as Budget, the Middle Eastern venture reportedly takes the effort to the next level, so instead of a smile-logo cardboard box being rapidly brought to your door, the company will deliver a car instead.
“Within a couple of steps and a short three-hour wait time, customers can have the car of their choice delivered directly to their doorstep, all from the comfort of their own home,” Mamlouk added.
In a hat-tip to the well-established work-from-home trend, Amazon also announced that it was unveiling a special “School from Home” store in India, as that country grapples with the impacts of the coronavirus.
According to local reports, the specially curated shop will offer home-based students an assortment of products to facilitate their studies, including stationery, computers, phones, headsets and other devices needed to thrive in the digitally-distanced world.
Phones For All
At a time when everyone seems to have a phone in their pocket or purse, Walmart has launched an effort to put a device in everyone’s hand at work too.
Alongside the launch of its new “Me@Walmart” app built to simplify daily tasks and help better serve customers, the retail giant said it was issuing cellphones to 740,000 U.S. associates to make it all happen.
“Until now, associates have shared company handheld devices,” Walmart’s blog read, noting a good response to an initial smartphone pilot it ran earlier this year. “We are now expanding the test and will continue to evaluate to make sure we’re providing our associates with the best tools to do their jobs.”
Employees are free to use the devices for personal use but Walmart said they can only access work-related functions while they are on the job.