Walgreens installing IoT voice technology in all U.S. stores

Walgreens store associates and managers across the U.S. will soon be equipped with small, AI-powered devices that will allow them to remain “heads-up and hands-free” while communicating among themselves to help customers.

The voice-controlled devices are intelligent IoT gadgets supplied by the mobile voice-tech company Theatro.

In announcing the installation, Dallas-based Theatro said an initial 1,000 stores will have the devices this year and the rest of Walgreens’ 9,560 stores will follow later.

Theatro’s voice platform for retail includes apps with self-explanatory names like Register Backup, Morning Huddle, Price Checks and Inventory Lookups.

Along with facilitating communications within Walgreens store teams, the technology will allow store managers to track performance metrics and identify areas in need of improvement, according to the announcement.

“As we transform our stores into modern neighborhood health destinations, it’s critical that we enable our store teams to enhance the experience for customers and patients,” said Richard Ashworth, the retail giant’s president of operations.

The move continues the march of Walgreens, like its competitor CVS—and newcomer Amazon PillPack—deeper into the age of digital medicine.

Last summer Walgreens announced the launch of Find Care Now, a digital platform and marketplace designed to connect mobile and web customers to various healthcare services beyond prescriptions and OTC remedies.