Walgreens: Is it time to “do less better”?

Today’s RetailWire discussion focuses on a speech given by Walgreens’ longtime CEO last week. He discussed a long list of initiatives, which raised the question among BrainTrust panelists about whether the company is trying to tackle too many initiatives. Here’s my perspective:

My consulting colleagues at McMillan Doolittle would describe Al’s list of retailers as good examples of their “EST” model. In short, find something to be “best” at (cheapest, easiest, newest, and so on) and make sure you are “top of mind” here, while executing well on other aspects of your strategy.

It’s debatable whether Walgreens, or any company, can execute so many strategic initiatives at a high level at the same time. And the lack of clarity is reflected in the stores, which continue to be overassorted and hard to navigate.

Walgreens has already grown due to innovations like its drive-through pharmacy and its location strategy, but the store is now a confusing hybrid of a “health headquarters” (complete with clinic) and a neighborhood convenience store (complete with candy and cigarettes). It’s time for a clearer message.


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