Two of the best-known names in U.S. retailing, Kroger and Walgreens, are embarking on a 13-store pilot program that will take place over the next several months. Shoppers will be able to pick up their Kroger.com grocery orders at 13 Walgreens stores in Northern Kentucky, near Kroger’s Cincinnati, Ohio headquarters. The stores also will stock Kroger Our Brand private label items, including Simple Truth natural and organic products, complementing Walgreens health, wellness, pharmacy and beauty offerings.
Both retailers plan to listen closely to customer feedback during the pilot to determine if the combination appeals to consumers. The exact timetable for the pilot, as well as any expansion efforts, are unknown.
“This concept brings together the best of two great brands to rethink convenience and redefine the way America shops for food,” said Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen in a statement.
“We continue to evolve our offerings to meet the changing needs of our customer and provide a more differentiated shopping experience,” said Stefano Pessina, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a statement. “We’ve been implementing new approaches to promotions, product selection and other areas to delivery greater value in our stores.”
Walgreens has been trying out ways to expand its offerings as competition in the drug store vertical intensifies. In June the retailer partnered with Chef’d to offer meal kits at 30 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the New York City area. Additionally, Walgreens has been expanding its international reach with the purchase of a 40% stake in the Chinese pharmacy chain Sinopharm Holding GuoDa Drugstores that was finalized in July 2018.
For its part, Kroger has been adding new customer touch points, including expanding its partnership with Instacart to offer same-day grocery delivery in more than 1,600 stores. In August, the supermarket retailer launched Kroger Ship, its own direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping service featuring nearly 55,000 products. Additionally, Kroger opened up its first ventures outside the U.S., acquiring a stake in UK-based online supermarket Ocado and opting to sell Simple Truth products on Alibaba’s Tmall global marketplace.