The concept of the CVS MinuteClinic began almost 20 years ago, when the company opened its first QuickMedx center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was limited in scope, serving customers on a cash only basis and treating only 7 medical conditions: strep throat, mononucleosis, influenza – along with pregnancy testing and bladder, ear and sinus infections. But it would less than 3 years later be transformed into the more than 1,100 MinuteClinics that are present in 33 states around the United States.
The 2018 version of the MinuteClinic will diagnose and treat an assortment of minor illnesses, including injuries and skin conditions, vaccinations, health screenings and physical checkups, and finally, monitor customers for the presence of any chronic conditions. They have extended it to include MinuteClinic Video Visits, where you can download their app and consult with a doctor 24 hours a day for minor illnesses and general wellness needs. In effect, the doctor comes to you via the Internet.
What needs to be noticed here is that instead of being a retail store that sells health and wellness products, CVS has spoken to its customers by saying, “We care about you.” CVS hasn’t abandoned, and has no plans to abandon, its retail business but instead connects the product with the service. This is comparable to buying a computer at Best Buy and then having the Geek Squad available when it gets sick. The difference is with MinuteClinic the focus is on the person.
Individualized service is one way that the concept of the MinuteClinic is a game changer for retailers. In the Cosmetics industry, stores can provide personalized service by having on-site beauty and cosmetic specialists who will sit down with a customer and discuss in detail their specific needs. This is a far better option than talking across the counter with someone who is a sales clerk, and may not know everything they need to in order to give the customer the best advice.
Going beyond the basic information universe on diet and nutrition, supermarket chain stores can provide more than just general information about diet choices. This crosses over with the MinuteClinic concept, as for many people, diet and nutrition are key components of a healthy lifestyle. Instead of getting your information over the Internet from a stranger, you can get up to date information by simply stopping in at your local supermarket. Kroger has already started down this road by training some of their employees through video systems on specific diet and nutrition topics.
Retailers who are considering introducing these personalized service concepts into their own store need to keep in mind that to be successful, the service being offered is relevant to their target market. For example, you wouldn’t go to an auto repair store for medical advice. Your brand should have an established trust with its customers, so when extending your retail brand to the service industry it will make sense to the consumer.
Another key factor is whether the service you are considering is something that customers actually want. If a general retail store that sells flowers along with fruit wants to provide a service that consults with people who are planning flower arrangements for a funeral, going to your supermarket is not the place customers are likely to stop in for a visit.
Finally, the retail store must either be willing to acquire the service or partner with a company that provides the service. The reason for this is manageability. Customers need to know that either you or the partnering company are qualified to be experts in the service, otherwise they will lose confidence and take their business elsewhere. Adding a service you are not fully committed to as part of your store brand can result in subtraction of customers if not done properly.
What needs to be seen with the CVS MinuteClinic model is that it takes time to fully develop a service that fits into a niche retail market. Understanding what your business is all about and taking that knowledge to add a service that will develop into a long term solution for cash flow, is what makes this concept work. It will not be for everyone, but those retail stores that can make the retail-service-customer connection will have new territory to be able to actually compete with the Internet.