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Walgreens Testing Anti-Theft Store

Most merchandise at Chicago store ordered by kiosk, retrieved by workers.

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Walgreens Boots Alliance (Deerfield, Ill.) is trying out a store concept designed to let customers shop while preventing criminals from stealing, RetailWire reports. The redesigned store, in Chicago’s South Loop, has all its merchandise locked down except for two aisles dedicated to essentials that can be shopped independently.

The test was first reported by CWB Chicago. Here’s how it works: Customers choose what non-essential items they want from an iPad-based digital kiosk, then pick up the products at a checkout counter where a Walgreens employee retrieves them.

Walgreens said it was “testing a new experience at [the] store with new concepts, technologies, and practices to enhance the experiences of [its] customers and team members.” Details on whether it is being tried elsewhere were not immediately available.

Reader reaction to the solution outlined in the RetailWire piece was decidedly mixed. Wrote one: “It’s like the old drug stores where everything was behind the counter. Back to the future. That worked in Mayberry RFD, but it won’t work well in Chicago and San Francisco.”

Wrote another: “The cost of people is the biggest expense at store level, so I don’t see this as a sustainable option, unless you have a Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC)-based approach with robotic picks. Controlling shrink is a very big deal, especially with self-checkout. I believe a combination of RFID, video and a floor reset with robotics is a viable solution for this segment, but one size doesn’t fit everyone.”

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