Walmart Pharmacy Review
It's no surprise Walmart wins hands-down when it comes to price. Consumers also find it convenient to pick up pharmacy, health, and beauty products while shopping for other essentials. Customer service may be relatively spotty due to the size of the stores and the company's reputation.
As in many other product categories, Walmart consistently comes up with cheaper prices than its competitors in the pharmacy department. In price comparisons of drugstore products, prescription drugs, and immunizations, Walmart posted the lowest totals across the board. Not a single one of the five prescriptions or 12 products we priced out at Walmart was cheaper elsewhere (although store-brand versions of two personal-care products on our list were not available). Walmart also started a trend, followed by Target and Kroger, of charging $4 for a 30-day supply of many generic prescription drugs, a boon even for many customers with insurance coverage for prescription drugs (the cash outlay is likely lower than the insurance co-pay).
Convenience is another major factor for consumers who pick Walmart for their pharmaceutical needs. The option to complete tasks such as grocery shopping within the same store is worth a lot to some shoppers choosing where to fill prescriptions or get over-the-counter medications. A certain amount of ambivalence about the Walmart shopping experience and the company's business practices does prevent some customers from committing to use Walmart as their pharmacy. Walmart ranks lowest among mass merchandisers in J.D. Power's 2014 U.S. Pharmacy Study, which measures customer satisfaction.
While Walmart stores are large and give consumers an abundance of product choices, the pharmacy department is small in comparison with a stand-alone drugstore. The accessibility to other services, though, makes it worthwhile for some consumers to try Walmart first and go elsewhere only on occasion. The same goes for customer service. Although there are many Walmart employees, only a certain number are assigned to the pharmacy. Those employees are often stationed behind the counter, making them less accessible. For what it's worth, the employees we encountered on our visit to a central-Ohio store were friendly and more than willing to help, whether or not they were stationed in the pharmacy department.
Conveniences available to Walmart customers include drive-thru pharmacies at some locations. Select stores in 17 states house independently owned and operated clinics under the banner The Clinic at Walmart. Those clinics quoted the cheapest prices for the hepatitis A and HPV vaccines in our walk-in clinic comparison and charged $25 for a flu shot.
Walmart's reputation for having the cheapest prices doesn't stop at the pharmacy. Combine its undisputed price advantage with a full selection of related services and the convenience of one-stop shopping, and consumers have good reason to choose Walmart.