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How Walgreens Plans To Expand Digital Coupon Use And Drive In-Store Visits

The drugstore chain claims that more than 135 million paperless coupons have been virtually 'clipped.'

Walgreens is accepting digital coupons generated by the brands whose products it sells as it seeks to drive more activity and signups for Balance Rewards loyalty.

The Deefield, Illinois-based drugstore chains claims that it has already accepted 135 million paperless coupons by its 85 million active Balance Rewards members via the Walgreens app and website. The paperless coupons program was launched in 2014.

The latest expansion of digital coupons follows a series of enhancements designed to simplify paperless coupons by also offering manufacturer coupons through a partnership with Quotient (previously Coupons.com Incorporated).

Walgreens also plans to offer digital redemption and clipping from product pages for its Weekly Ad and Monthly Savings Book later this summer to attract consumers with a wider variety of deals.

“We were one of the first retailers to take an innovative and simplified approach in developing the customer experience for digital coupons,” said Abhi Dhar, Walgreens’ SVP/chief information officer, in a statement. “These latest enhancements, in addition to integrating our loyalty program with Apple Pay and Android Pay, have made it even easier for the millions of people who use our online and mobile channels every day to save even more at Walgreens.”

Walgreens' paperless coupon.
Walgreens’ paperless coupon.

In a larger sense, Walgreens has been aggressively updating its online-to-offline marketing strategy for the past two years.

Back in February, Walgreens’ Dhar told CIO that the company planned to test beacons at certain of its Duane Reade locations. A month before that, Walgreens’ rival Rite Aide, which is actually in the process of being acquired by Walgreens in a $17.2 billion merger, had unveiled that it began installing beacons at all its 4,600 U.S. stores last fall with inMarket.

Beacons and paperless coupons remain separate omnichannel agenda items for Walgreens. But it’s reasonable to assume that along with mobile payment and wider loyalty programs, that the two features could come together in the near future.

For now, though, Walgreens is taking things one step at a time. Considering digital coupons are a more obvious online-to-offline marketing tactic, it’s natural that it concentrate its efforts on that front.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen a growing demand from our customers to provide value and a seamless shopping experience whether they visit us in-store, online or through the Walgreens mobile app,” said Linda Filler, Walgreens’ president of retail products and chief merchandising officer, in a statement. “Paperless coupons give Walgreens and our vendor partners an opportunity to deliver even greater value to our customers no matter which of our channels they choose to shop.”