The CVS Experience

As I entered the store, I was immediately greeted by someone at the checkout, offering assistance. The first aisle I passed through was the make up aisle, which led back to the medicine section of the CVS.

The signage throughout the store was mostly self-explanatory, and the store’s main floor is divided up into 4 primary quadrants: Personal Care (by the front door), Groceries, Greeting Cards/Stationery and Medicine/Health. By the front registers is the often forgotten Photos section. Finally, at the back is the Pharmacy which offers a more transparent approach with half-height dividing walls instead of floor-to-ceiling.

As I browsed, I noticed an employee walking around the floor offering help to shoppers. This was the second time I was offered assistance if I needed it. Their customer service is proactive, yet not obtrusive. The employee even made eye contact with me and offered a friendly, but not awkward smile. Is this part of their training?

The ambience is mostly positive. Windows along the sides of the building offer natural lighting in addition to the flourescent lights. The music being piped through overhead speakers is at an acceptable volume and plays songs like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

The pattern of most other shoppers — who are about 80% women — is they enter, look up at the signage, continue to an aisle, choose a product and proceed to the checkout. Those going to the Pharmacy seem to know it’s in the back of the store and head straight back.

The overall experience at the various interaction points — entrance, product aisles, pharmacy and checkout was generally positive. There wasn’t anything that influenced me to take my business elsewhere. That said, there are opportunities for improvement in a few areas.



Although the Pharmacy is pleasantly designed, it’s not completely clear which counter to approach for questions about a prescription. I approached the Consultation counter, but was redirected to the Pick Up counter. Could this be improved by a simple, short numbering system that leads shoppers through the prescription-request process? Perhaps another option would be to have a single counter at the Pharmacy — “Start Here” — which after you place your order, you just go to the front register, pay, pick up and leave.

Checkout Process

There were a couple opportunities for improvement in the checkout process.

First, the CVS has one long counter with four registers — similar to Barnes & Noble and Best Buy. The format is effective in these other retail stores, but those have a clear designation on where lines start and the path to follow. It’s not clear in CVS where shoppers should start to form a line. They have multiple little displays with gaps between them near the registers, but a line could form between them or down the long aisle next to them. When there’s only one or two people, it’s not a problem, but if there are 3+ it becomes potentially confusing. A clearly defined path would improve the experience.

The second is related to the technology used in the checkout. I had to choose to receive a printed receipt before swiping my credit card. That felt odd and out of order. Most other shopping experiences address the receipt toward the end of the payment process. In addition, there was no option for an emailed receipt or no receipt. The printed receipt I was given was about two feet long. Offering an email receipt to shoppers would save on paper, therefore saving CVS money, saving trees and minimizing the impact on landfills — since many shoppers threw away their reciepts as they exited the store.

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