More retail disruption with the merger of CVS and Aetna

The “disruption” in retail takes another interesting turn with the possible merger of CVS and Aetna. The goal for CVS is to drive those insured under Aetna health insurance to their locations for prescriptions and the walk in health clinics. This is CVS’s is response to Amazon applying to sell prescriptions on-line. I don’t want to wax nostalgic, but step back for a minute a think about how the business of traditional retail has been obliterated. You went to stores to buy consumer goods, food, clothing and sundries. Pharmacies were typically part of our health care eco-system. We had a personal relationship with our local pharmacist who dispensed advice and counsel as an extension of our physician.   For the sake of convenience what are we gaining and what are we losing? Maybe millennials feel we’re not losing anything, that the one stop shop approach is a win. The question is, are we are willing to give up privacy for convenience? To me this is just another step in the progression to have cradle to grave data aggregation of our every move. Hipaa privacy regulations have protected our medical information from marketers, but will this change with this merger?

The “Amazon” effect has been cataclysmic to retail and there’s no end in sight. The rules of retail have been obliterated and the new rules of retail and consumer engagement are being written by Amazon. The potential merger of CVS and Aetna is just another example. My advice is to retailers is to pay close attention to Amazon and specifically their recent acquisition of Whole Foods. Whole Foods will be the test laboratory for merging customer engagement across the multi- channel experience. Pay attention to how Amazon will drive traffic into Whole Foods and couple that with their online business.

The independent retailers who survive and grow will be those who to adapt quickly and pay attention to the “Amazon” effect. My suggestion is that you use Amazon and shop at Whole Foods to get firsthand knowledge on how they execute customer engagement and are merging of the in-store and online experience. Their goal is simply is to drive more traffic into the Whole Foods stores. You obviously don’t have the resources to implement everything their doing but at least you can incorporate one or two ideas from them. . The two distinct advantages you have as an independent retail is your ability to adapt quickly and the second is your closeness to customers. The independent retailer has the opportunity to get first hand feedback from customers which if used properly is a valuable asset. There will be stories about retailers who successfully navigated this “disruptive” period and survived and thrived. Here’s tw0 thing you can do immediately, partner with Amazon and offer in-store pickup of items ordered online. Be sure your one of the survivors.