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Will clicks replace bricks? The worlds can exist together if Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin has her say. As the group vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty and personal care of the nation’s largest drugstore chain, Curtin aims to make sure its in-store experience keeps shoppers coming back. But the multifaceted retailer is also the ultimate omnichannel merchant with its potent online network, which includes Drugstore.com.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The future of retail is about offering people the services and products they want, when they want it and on the medium that they prefer. From mobile to tablet to store or something new that’s being created right now, she is the boss and our job is to make it easier for her to take care of her personal business,” said Curtin. “Forcing customers to only shop one medium is a costly mistake, especially to a retailer.”
The beauty shopper, in particular, demands a total brand experience and Curtin predicted “average retailers will not survive.” Only those with a distinct identity will be able to keep up, especially with the new generation of shoppers, she suggested.
Walgreens has five generations of shoppers in its retail stores and online and adapts its offer for each group. A red flag to her is any brand asking for full assortment and chainwide distribution. “It means that you don’t understand the marketplace because there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all.”
Gen-Z might have the biggest impact on ushering in change, Curtin suggested. “This customer will not go shopping. Shopping has to come to them,” she said of Gen-Z, the zero to 18-year-old group. “We have to ask ourselves are we relevant to those that we serve? Are the services we’re providing really what customers want,” she said. “Gen-Z will be the first generation to vocalize and demand that we change the way we think, operate and go to market.”