How Drugstore Chain Rexall Uses Retail Partnerships to Diversify Store Offerings

Canadian drugstore chain Rexall continues to expand its strategy of partnering with well-known brands to create specific spaces in its stores to sell their products.

The concept took hold about 18 months ago when it first partnered with M&M Food Market and recently it announced a new partnership with Staples. More partnerships could also be on the horizon based on the success of these two relationships.

REXALL PARTNERSHIP STRATEGY IS CONSUMER FOCUSED

Nicolas Caprio, President of Rexall, said the strategy is consumer focused.

“It’s about that consumer lens. That consumer focus. It’s about convenience. This partnership (with Staples) initiated pre-COVID. When you look at what has transpired through COVID and the consumer behaviour is shifting, honestly a partnership with a leading retailer like Staples, we through our network are in places in rural communities in communities where potentially you don’t have Staples and when you think about the consumer and the way we’re trying to provide that convenience that one-stop shop what this partnership provides is the added convenience for their needs.”

Trevor Bartlett, Rexall’s Chief Merchant, said the new partnership is one of many customer engagement improvements it is making for customers.

The Staples partnership, said Bartlett, is on the heels of a very successful partnership with M&M.

“It’s all designed to enhance and differentiate the product offering that we bring to the marketplace,” he said.

Rexall and Staples Partner to Bring Added Convenience to Canadians (CNW Group/Rexall)

“The M&M relationship that we have is in more than 250 stores. It’s been a part of our business now for about a year and a half and it continues to be very successful in the Rexall stores.”

Bartlett said the relationships with Staples and M&M are unique and special, bringing great value to Rexall customers.

“With regards to whether or not there are additional partnerships that would be on the horizon, I would say yes we are absolutely looking at other opportunities to partner with great brands and improve the customer offering for Rexall shoppers,” said Bartlett.

“When you think about Rexall and what we’re trying to accomplish, the convenience to the consumer, honestly the lens we are applying on an ongoing basis is how do we meet those consumer needs, how do we evolve with those consumer behaviour shopping needs in what they’re looking for, so that we can resonate with those customers in a greater way, especially as the ecosystem is changing,” added Caprio.

In partnering with other brands, Bartlett said, it’s not necessarily the plan to partner solely with national brands. The key is bringing a “unique, interesting value to the Rexall shoppers”.

“So I wouldn’t suggest if an organization is not national we wouldn’t be interested in them. I think that would be false. We would certainly be interested in looking at regional partnerships as well as national partnerships,” he said.

M&M DISPLAY IN REXALL. PHOTO: CANADIAN GROCER

REXALL IS FOCUSED ON OPTIMIZING ITS NETWORK ACROSS CANADA

Rexall currently has 414 stores across Canada. It is primarily from Ontario to the West with one location in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Caprio said the company is always looking at its network.

“That’s the ongoing opportunity that we have which is to optimize the network. And there’s still opportunities out there where we aren’t today but we could potentially continue building. But as you know, today’s world, the retail industry, you have to look at the ecosystem in its entirety,” said Caprio.

“It’s about the omnichannel experience but there are opportunities out there that we continue to look at and we will continue to optimize our network.”

The partnership with Staples will be in 317 Rexall locations across Canada with more than 200 Staples products. The category management teams have partnered to analyse the needs of customers in the marketplaces Rexall serves and have specifically designed an assortment that fits the needs of those customer requirements in those Rexall stores.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand our product and service offerings for our customers and patients. Partnering with Staples allows us to bring a best in class product assortment - back to school and office supplies, directly to our Rexall customers, making it very convenient for them to access those products,” said Bartlett.

Rexall is part of the Rexall Pharmacy Group Ltd., and a member of the global McKesson Corporation family.

“We’re evolving and stay tuned you’ll be hearing about more of our journey. But it is about the omnichannel journey. It is about ecomm. It is about digital experiences. It is about virtual experiences. When we talk and think about the consumer and how they are shifting, especially in this COVID world, there’s less footsteps in stores and they’re making one sort of greater basket purchases when they’re in the stores but at the same time they’re also looking at solutions of how to have potentially products and their services delivered outside of the brick and mortar,” said Caprio.

“And that’s the journey honestly that we’re on. We’ve just partnered up with Cornershop and we’re looking honestly at the ecosystem trying to understand how we fulfill those consumer needs.”

For Rexall customers, they can access the retailer online now through Cornershop or Well.ca which is a sister company under the McKesson umbrella.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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