Walgreens vs. CVS: The Drugstore War Goes Mobile

With a Walgreens or CVS on what seems like every block, drugstore chains are in fierce competition to win the hearts and minds of consumers. They’ve already saturated our city blocks and stuffed every Tribune and Sun Times with coupons. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a digital battle raging – and no technology platform is safe.

walgreens mobile app

Staying top of mind is still about proximity, but “close proximity” means something new these days. The latest trend means being present on the devices users check before they even get out of bed in the morning, or giving them a hand when they’re in the midst of an overwhelming day. Providing mobile solutions that fit directly into consumers’ busy lifestyles keeps a brand top of mind, increasing the chance that next time they’ll pick CVS over Walgreens or vice versa.

walgreens mobile app

To win mobile users over stores need to provide not only the expected features like store location and coupons, but creative solutions to problems that their audience is likely to encounter on a daily basis.

At their core, mobile apps should provide information that is relevant to the customer’s shopping experience, like:

  • Store hours
  • Directions
  • Product info
  • Coupons

But a truly useful application goes above and beyond by solving annoying situations that only remotely relate to the product being sold. By providing innovative functions that make life easier, brands are reaping the benefits of increased recognition, repeat business and reduced attrition.

Here’s what drugstore bigwigs Walgreens and CVS are doing to fight for application real estate consumers’ smartphones.


Thanks to a host of handy features and streamlined UI, the Walgreens mobile app is probably the strongest mobile effort from the drugstore bunch.

The recently released version 3.1 includes expected features like store location, coupons and weekly ads, which are all useful in their own way. But they also take it a step further than the necessities with features that only indirectly tie to sales. Pill Reminder functions as an alarm to give users a heads up when it’s time to take their medication. This doesn’t necessarily get people into Walgreens, but it gives users a reason to open the app on a daily basis, and each time they do so, they’ll see the Walgreens logo and other content on the homepage.

In addition to pharmacy-related features, the app recently introduced the Quick Prints feature, which allows users to order photo prints directly from their phone.

The app is visually appealing, plus you can move the icons on the homescreen around for added convenience.

walgreens mobile app               walgreens mobile app

The Walgreens app is available for free on iPhone and Android.


The CVS mobile app features pretty standard utilities like a Weekly Ads section and a store locator. They also offer a prescription scanner similar to that on Walgreens app, plus a few other pharmacy-based features.

Users also have access to loyalty program accounts on the CVS apps. Merging mobile apps and loyalty programs seems to be a rising trend for retail stores.

walgreens mobile app                walgreens mobile app

The CVS is available for free on iPhone and Android.

Both drugstore apps provided useful functions for consumers, but Walgreens pulls ahead with a pleasant combination of standard features, great UX and features that are useful even when you’re not shopping.

Time will tell who wins this digital battle. Who do you think provides a better in and out of store experience? Check our Facebook poll and find out!