BRAMPTON, Ontario — One plus one equaled three when Loblaw Cos. acquired Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM).
The 2014 merger made two strong companies stronger, creating a retailer peerlessly oriented around health, wellness and convenience.
The pharmacy and beauty expertise of Canada’s No. 1 drug chain, blended with the capabilities of the country’s top grocer, have positioned Loblaw for continued growth in a rapidly changing society.
In recognition of the synergistic transformation of the two chains, MMR has named Loblaw its 2015 International Retailer of the Year.
The company’s mission, helping people “Live Life Well,” is ultimately anchored in the health and well-being of Canadians, says executive chairman and president Galen Weston.
This mission advanced significantly when SDM was purchased by Loblaw. “The addition brought greater focus to our evolving view that — more than just a grocer, more than just a pharmacy — Loblaw is increasingly becoming a nutrition, health and wellness provider,” said Weston.
Against a backdrop of provincial health budget cuts, strained services, and a growing need for accessible care and illness prevention, Loblaw and SDM stores offer access and convenience, as well as pharmacists who provide an extended range of services to improve patient outcomes.
“Think of the expanding consumer trust this implies,” said Weston, noting that Loblaw and SDM pharmacists administered close to one million flu shots this past flu season and have engaged in providing new pharmacy services as a part of their expanding scope of practice. Adding to pharmacists’ capabilities, SDM opened Canada’s first-ever Patient Contact Centre, where 125 pharmacists and assistants have just one job. They proactively call patients who have failed to refill their prescriptions for more than seven days to ensure they continue their therapy. And in a growing number of Loblaw supermarkets, in-house dietitians educate and advise customers to maintain or improve their nutrition, often in partnership with store pharmacists.
“As the underlying consumer trust grows, important one-to-one customer relationships take shape — in our pharmacies and grocery aisles, and through our services and loyalty programs,” Weston remarked.
When SDM joined Loblaw, the grocer gained a new understanding of the power of loyalty. Loblaw’s President’s Choice Plus team admired the legacy of SDM’s Optimum as Canada’s No. 1 retail loyalty brand. The Optimum team, meanwhile, admired the personal, digital offers of PC Plus.
The upshot was that both loyalty programs were reimagined, launching new propositions, and each borrowing the other’s best attributes. Optimum launched personalized offers delivered digitally via smartphone through an app, just like PC Plus. “Imagine a loyalty program so personalized it will ultimately adjust to the pivot points in a customer’s life — a child, an aging parent, a new or heightened commitment to wellness,” said Weston.
And PC Plus members can now view the nutritional value of their grocery basket online, tracking and comparing it over time. “PC Plus is quickly becoming Canada’s first integrated wellness loyalty platform, supported by loyalty data, sales data, and Guiding Stars nutritional rankings of 50,000 products,” noted Weston. “Today, we can educate and encourage customers toward better nutrition. Soon, we will reward them for better decisions.”
With 9 million and 10 million members, respectively, Optimum and PC Plus are powerful avenues for Loblaw’s goal of bolstering Canadians’ well-being, he said.