Shoppers Drug Mart wants to help Canadians age gracefully with a new retail concept called Wellwise.
The idea behind the 3,500-sq.-ft. pilot store, located in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood, is to create a more positive shopping experience, with a focus on wellness rather than illness. An e-commerce site, WellWise.ca, is launching next month.
Research conducted by Shoppers Drug Mart found consumers “are no longer satisfied with aging comfortably, they wanted to age more powerfully,” says Scott Wilks, vice-president of Shoppers Home Health Care, which sells specialty products for elderly consumers and those with medical conditions. “And so, we started to build upon a strategy around creating an environment that was much more empowering for the consumer.”
The new store is designed to be modern, interactive and easily navigable. It features eight dedicated categories marked by bright colours, for instance, “Wellness” is blue, “Active Living” is yellow and “Mobility” is green.
The merchandise mix ranges from mobility aids and sleep therapy products to yoga mats, pilates weights, and supports and braces. “We’ve expanded our target audience to include not only the older adult, but also the ‘zoomer’ who tends to want to stay active and take a more proactive stance to [aging],” says Wilks.
The store is also targeting caregivers, he adds. “One in five Canadians today are caregivers of older adults and one of their challenges is access to products as well as being able to get into the store, so that’s why the e-commerce [site] is important.”
Many products are also out of their packages so customers can touch and feel them, and get a better understanding of how they work and what they’re used for. “We felt a lot of what we sell [at Shoppers Home Health Care] just isn’t understood,” says Wilks. “Giving that interaction within the stores is another major differentiator.”
Wellwise also offers specialized services including an on-site dietician and professional fitters for compression products and supports and braces.
The Loblaw-owned retail pharmacy chain hasn’t set a timeline for the test period, says Wilks. “We want to make sure we get it right… and we’ll continually monitor [customer feedback] and make decisions from there.”
“Our key is that we’re really looking for a new way to serve this clientele,” he adds. “We’re really about trying to change that dialogue around aging and that’s a big part of what this pilot is about.”