Are Site Makeovers an Online Retailers Secret Weapon?

CVS vs. Walgreens

Image from: Walgreens vs. CVS / IBTimes.com

When you think of long-standing, heated rivalries, I’m sure only one pair comes to mind: CVS and Walgreens.  No?  Okay, so maybe they’re not the rivals on the top of your mind, but these two pharmacies are two of the biggest players in their space.  We can use Compete’s data to take a closer look at these competitors and see how a recent site makeover by CVS might have changed the game.

When looking at unique visitors to each of the retailers, we see a gap as far back as July 2010 with Walgreens on top, and that likely continues past then.  Generally speaking, CVS has captured only about 60-70% of the traffic that Walgreens receives.  As recent as January 2012 (just the time Walgreens and Express Scripts ended their relationship), CVS started to close the gap, reaching nearly 80% of Walgreens traffic for most of 2012.  However, it seems that their late June makeover may have given them their biggest boost yet, closing in on nearly 90% of Walgreens’ traffic.

Unique Visitors to Walgreens.com vs. CVS.com
I also decided to look at average stay for the two retailers to see if CVS was closing that gap as well.  In the past, stays on CVS.com were just half of the average stay on Walgreens.com.  Did the site redesign cause some visitors to spend a bit more time on the site?  The answer is: not really.  While there is a slight closing of the difference in time spent between the two retailers, it’s not to the degree we saw in UVs, and much of the closing of the gap comes from a dip on Walgreens’ side, not CVS’s.  Of course, there is the possibility that the new site was just easier to use and less time was needed to find what you need.

Average stay at Walgreens.com vs. CVS.com

Looking at daily reach, you can see CVS has been the winner on more and more days in the recent months, with things picking up since the redesign.  Prior to 2012, there weren’t many days where CVS beat out Walgreens in this measure, but again the Express Scripts change early this year gave CVS a bump that it seemed to carry for most of the year so far and even boost a bit with their site’s makeover.

Daily Reach of Walgreens.com vs. CVS.com

So it appears that the one-two punch of Walgreens losing Express Scripts and CVS launching a fresh new site has put these two retailers closer than ever.  As the site’s launch was still very recent, it’ll be interesting to see how CVS holds onto their gains, as well as how these increases in visitors impacts the number of transactions on each site.  But CVS may have a little more to worry about than those things right now, as Walgreens and Express Scripts re-ignite their relationship this month.