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Walgreens, AmerisourceBergen in acquisition talks: reports

BY DSN STAFF

Updated Feb. 13, 1:03 p.m.

Walgreens Boots Alliance reportedly is interested in a potential acquisition of AmerisourceBergen. Representatives of WBA CEO Stefano Pessina reached out recently to AmerisourceBergen CEO Steve Collis’ representative about acquiring the roughly three-quarters of the distributor that WBA doesn’t already own, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.

According to the WSJ report, the companies are in early talks to combine, though sources reportedly stressed the uncertainty as to whether there would be a deal. As a result of the report, AmerisourceBergen shares increased roughly 12% after market close. In response to Drug Store News inquiries, Walgreens declined to comment on the news, and AmerisourceBergen said the company’s corporate policy is not to discuss rumors or speculation about possible mergers or acquisitions.

News of the potential combination of the companies — which recently added three years to their 10-year distribution partnership through which Walgreens Boots Alliance gained a roughly 25% stake in Valley Forge, Pa.-based AmerisourceBergen — comes as CVS Health is in the midst of its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna. Both moves come as Amazon continues to make overtures in the healthcare space — forming an insurance company with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase for the three companies’ employees and steadily acquiring pharmacy wholesale licenses in various states.

Walgreens’ market cap was $67.8 billion and AmerisourceBergen’s was $19.6 billion as of Feb. 12, according to Nasdaq.

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Walmart’s app update to streamline in-store shopping

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is making it easier for customers to plan their in-store shopping trips.

The discount giant is updating its mobile app with new services designed to streamline the in-store shopping experience. All upgrades will be featured through a feature called Store Assistant, which will be activated when customers walk in the door.

The new services include list-building capabilities that enable customers create shopping lists, and real-time access to stock availability — as well as product location — at a customer’s local store. It also calculates the cost of the shopping list.

The app also features “Store Maps,” a service the serves up maps unique to each of the chain’s 4,700 stores, as well as the aisle and shelf location of specific merchandise. The feature is already available for a handful of stores, and will be rolled out chainwide. It also highlights specific store departments, as well as operating hours and phone numbers.

The additions augment other features added last year, such as a prescription refill tool and the ability to wire money. In November, Walmart also added Mobile Express Returns, which enables online customers to begin the returns process in their app before even heading to their local store.

“We’re building a shopping tool unlike any other in retail – and one that makes virtually every element of the store shopping experience faster and more convenient,” said Daniel Eckert, senior VP, Walmart services and digital acceleration. “We’re excited about the Walmart app updates we’re launching this week, but we’re even more excited about what’s to come.”

For example, the app will give customers the ability to “drop pins” on a store map — a move that will help them more easily locate specific items on their shopping lists. It will also enable customers to book services — like an oil change — in advance. Walmart is also exploring the integration of artificial intelligence, which will enable the company to automatically create lists for its customers, according to the company blog.

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Shoppers Drug Mart expands Wellwise concept

BY DSN STAFF

Shoppers Drug Mart is expanding its Wellwise concept, which is a resource aimed towards helping Canadians take charge of the way they age. The retailer announced that it will be offering the service to all those in Canada who are interested via wellwise.ca.

The e-commerce site features a broad selection of products and direct-to-home deliveries. Included offerings range from low-impact fitness to compression socks to physiotherapy products to support gadgets and mobility products.

“In creating Wellwise, we put the focus on wellness, not illness,” Theresa Firestone, SVP, healthcare businesses, Shoppers Drug Mart said. “Wellwise offers an enjoyable shopping experience that gives Canadians the tools and advice they need to age powerfully, not just comfortably.”

In addition to product purchases, the website also will offer subscription services to automatically ship frequently purchased items at regular intervals. Those who shop on the site get the added benefit of earning PC Optimum points on their purchases as well.

“At Wellwise, people can find everything from travel accessories to mobility products to help them stay in their homes longer,” Scott Wilks, vice president Shoppers Home Health Care and Wellwise said. “No matter what stage of life people are in, Wellwise will be an important resource for Canadians looking to take control of how they age.”

Back in September 2017, Shoppers Drug Mart launched the first pilot store of its Wellwise initiative, and now the company is looking to open a second location in April.

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