The Kroger Co. and Walgreens have announced that they are taking an exploratory pilot program that launched last October a step further. Starting this fall, Walgreens shoppers will start to see Kroger Express and Kroger Pickup at select Walgreens stores in Knoxville, Tenn., while Kroger stores will feature Walgreens' owned-brand health and beauty products across 17 area Kroger stores.
"We continue to redefine the grocery customer experience and partner for customer value through our Restock Kroger transformation plan. Our growing relationship with Walgreens is just one more way Kroger is making life easier and better for even more customers, because everyone deserves to have affordable, easy-to-enjoy, fresh food," said Jeff Talbot, Kroger's VP of new business development. "Expanding our pilot to Knoxville demonstrates the ongoing success and future potential of bringing together the best of Kroger's food authority with Walgreens' global expertise in health and beauty."
As part of the new expansion, shoppers will be able to use Kroger Pickup to place a digital order on kroger.com or through the Kroger app for curbside pickup at a participating Walgreens location. Additionally, Walgreens shoppers will see a curated selection of Kroger's popular own brands products, such as Simple Truth, which it bills as "America's largest natural and organic brand," and national brand products. Product assortment will vary by store, with fresh meat, produce and dairy, frozen foods, shelf-stable products and Home Chef meal solutions among the available items.
Most locations will feature a full Kroger Express assortment, with up to 2,700 products, and other stores, on average, will offer 2,300 products.
The Knoxville expansion will also pilot a curated selection of Walgreens' owned-brand health and beauty products in Kroger stores. Products will fall in the beauty, personal care, over-the-counter medications and wellness remedies categories. Walgreens Boots Alliance brands No7 and Soap & Glory will also be a part of the assortment.
"Walgreens customers have responded very favorably to the Kroger Express pilot in Northern Kentucky. As a result, we're exploring more ways to offer customers an enhanced, more convenient shopping experience," said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. "Working with Kroger, we're continuing to reinvent our customer offer to meet shoppers' evolving needs, which includes offering private-label grocery and health products at a great value, through an integrated omnichannel experience."
Both companies have been ahead of the game on transformative industry partnerships that better serve customers. Early in the year, Kroger announced that it was teaming up with Microsoft to launch its "Connected Store" pilot, to deploy internet of things sensors on products to create a retail as a service (RaaS) experience.
Launching the original pilot last year in Northern Kentucky allowed Kroger and Walgreens to test and learn in a retail setting and source customer feedback and insights, allowing the companies to create a more informed expansion decision. The pilot in Knoxville is a continuation of the test-and-learn approach, and both retailers will continue to assess customer response.