PASADENA, Calif. -- Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, will launch on-line shopping for its Sav-On drugstore division within the next few months, said Patrick Steele, executive vice president, information systems and technology, while speaking at the recent Supermarket News/Executive Technology Summit on Internet commerce.
"If you are going to be a true player in the drug space, I think you have to have both bricks-and-mortar and the virtual shopping," he told SN.
The Web site for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Sav-On Drugs/Osco Drug, has been in development by an in-house team since the second half of last year, and will be officially launched this quarter or next, Steele said. Through the site -- www.savon.com -- customers can order new prescriptions or renewals, as well as purchase a variety of health and beauty care and general merchandise products, he said.
"The system has been integrated so when a customer places an order for a prescription on-line, it is automatically sent through the Internet to the store they want to have it filled or picked up at," he said. The company operates 1,991 pharmacies in the United States. HBC items will be shipped by UPS from a warehouse in Fort Worth.
The site will offer about 20,000 to 25,000 products, compared to the 60,000 to 70,000 found in a typical drugstore. "But you have a lot of sizes and a lot of duplication. There will be the faster movers and single sizes on-line," Steele said.
The program has been nearly ready to go for some time, he noted. "The pharmacy piece has been out. We have gotten customer reaction. We are making some tweaks to it. It should be done in a couple of weeks and then it should be what we consider really user-friendly and ready to go," he said.
"Again, we are being cautious. We are making sure we get it right before we put it in front of all of our customers and risk any possible problem," he said.
Albertson's regards the on-line shopping component as a small part of the Web offering, Steele said.
"On the drug side, content and community is where the big win is," he said, especially for customers with specialized health concerns like diabetes and arthritis.
"They want to talk to other people and share ideas and recipes, or whatever. That's what you have to provide: total solutions for the consumer," he said.