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How They Did it: Walgreens’ Talent Strategy

Walgreens is transforming its supply chain to meet the new demands of an omni-channel customer. The next challenge: Recruiting the talent to make that transformation complete.

By ·

At Walgreens, we like to say that we meet our customers at “the corner of happy and healthy.” For more than a century, we in all likelihood served our customers at a brick and mortar location—and possibly on a corner. Brick and mortar is still an important part of our business: We operate nearly 8,200 retail locations in the United States, where we filled approximately 894 million prescriptions on a 30-day adjusted bases in fiscal 2015, with more than 13,000 retail locations worldwide as a division of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. 

While the pharmacy has been the heart and soul of our business since our founding in 1901, our portfolio of products includes everything from school supplies to snacks and beauty products. And, while we represent one of the largest brick and mortar footprints in the industry, our business is going digital to meet the changing expectations of our customers both in the store and online. For the past four years, we have been in the midst of a fundamental supply chain transformation. Where in the past the store was our focus, today, it all starts with the customer. We use data and analytics to forecast our customers’ purchase behavior and then work backwards to meet their demand. Our vision for this transformation is simple: We want to be the No. 1 customer-driven supply chain in the world. To do that, we have to be analytical and agile.

How does that change take place in the supply chain? We use our ability to forecast demand and ship exactly what is needed. For instance, we now have the ability to bring in unstructured data to anticipate flu patterns, which allows us to position over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, and tissues and toothbrushes around flu outbreaks. Using weather predictions, like a severe winter in New England, we can pre-position salt for sidewalks and driveways, heavy clothing and hand warmers so that we’re ready when the cold weather hits. We also describe Walgreens as your “neighborhood” store; that means we tailor inventory to the tastes and needs of the neighborhood where specific stores operate. For that reason, you can find beauty products and food supplements, hearty and healthy snacks, and even fresh sushi in a Chicago neighborhood catering to young professionals.

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By ·
Download Article PDF

At Walgreens, we like to say that we meet our customers at “the corner of happy and healthy.” For more than a century, we in all likelihood served our customers at a brick and mortar location—and possibly on a corner. Brick and mortar is still an important part of our business: We operate nearly 8,200 retail locations in the United States, where we filled approximately 894 million prescriptions on a 30-day adjusted bases in fiscal 2015, with more than 13,000 retail locations worldwide as a division of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. 

While the pharmacy has been the heart and soul of our business since our founding in 1901, our portfolio of products includes everything from school supplies to snacks and beauty products. And, while we represent one of the largest brick and mortar footprints in the industry, our business is going digital to meet the changing expectations of our customers both in the store and online. For the past four years, we have been in the midst of a fundamental supply chain transformation. Where in the past the store was our focus, today, it all starts with the customer. We use data and analytics to forecast our customers’ purchase behavior and then work backwards to meet their demand. Our vision for this transformation is simple: We want to be the No. 1 customer-driven supply chain in the world. To do that, we have to be analytical and agile.

How does that change take place in the supply chain? We use our ability to forecast demand and ship exactly what is needed. For instance, we now have the ability to bring in unstructured data to anticipate flu patterns, which allows us to position over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, and tissues and toothbrushes around flu outbreaks. Using weather predictions, like a severe winter in New England, we can pre-position salt for sidewalks and driveways, heavy clothing and hand warmers so that we’re ready when the cold weather hits. We also describe Walgreens as your “neighborhood” store; that means we tailor inventory to the tastes and needs of the neighborhood where specific stores operate. For that reason, you can find beauty products and food supplements, hearty and healthy snacks, and even fresh sushi in a Chicago neighborhood catering to young professionals.

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