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Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
2 minutes
Walgreens has noted a stronger commitment of its customers using photo-printing applications via its API (Application Programming Interface).

The facts

The Walgreens chain, both a drug store and a pharmacy (8,200 points of sale in 50 American states), developed a service-centric platform around APIs in 2012. It lets third-party developers integrate Walgreens services into their applications, for instance Printicular, a photo printing service.

Users of the application can send their photos from their smartphones or Facebook, Instagram or Dropbox accounts to Walgreens stores and collect them within the hour. Other similar services also use the API provided by Walgreens.

And these popular applications are beneficial to the retail chain! Walgreens claims that this boosts customer loyalty. Revenue from customers interacting via its API from its stores and mobile devices is said to be six times higher than that of its normal customers!


Offering an API is a strategic decision because third-party partners can more easily enrich the service offer and accordingly the user experience.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, this trend of boosting sales with APIs will intensify in the years to come.

For Walgreens this printing service, which could seem trivial, accomplishes its mission of diversifying services available at points of sale, making them a veritable living environment.
Beyond photos, the strategy of Walgreens’s API affects its core business centred on well-being and health. Latest announcement to date, the partnership with the WebMD site (health information service). Consumers can go to and sign up for the “Digital Health Advisor” programme, a virtual coaching programme run by WebMD.

Now Walgreens, Boots (the leading European retail pharmacy), and Alliance Healthcare (world leader in pharmaceutical distribution) merged in December 2014. In total, the Walgreens Boots Alliance group has 12,800 retail outlets and more than 340 pharmaceutical distribution centres serving over 180,000 pharmacies and health centres in nearly 25 countries.
A player that will soon feature in the “Ecosystemic” part dear to Echangeur (see the Commerce Reloaded 2015 report).

Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
To explore with you the transformation of retail with a double approach both editorial and business
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