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Boots: We’ve had ‘mixed’ reaction to express pick-up lanes so far

Boots: Patients can pick up their prescriptions from an express lane in two minutes or less
Boots: Patients can pick up their prescriptions from an express lane in two minutes or less

Boots has received “mixed” reactions from patients since installing “express” pick-up lanes in 600 of its largest branches, the multiple has told C+D.

Boots unveiled plans in May to transform its pharmacy offering, including the installation of “express” pick-up lanes, with a publicised “promise that customers can pick up their prescriptions in two minutes or less”.

Speaking to C+D at the preview of Boots’ “store of the future” in Covent Garden, London, last month, Stephen Watkins, director of pharmacy items and digital healthcare business lead, said feedback from patients so far had been “mixed”.

Customer care scores across the 600 pharmacies with express lanes was “5% up” on the previous year, he claimed, and “the majority of the comments we've had back so far are positive”.

However, just “putting a sign up” to advertise the service “doesn't necessarily change everything”, Mr Watkins added. “It’s about the conversation that the [Boots staff member] has with the customer. So we get comments, and they are mixed.”

The multiple has attempted to make the new pick-up process “as clear as it can be” for patients, he added.

Once a patient signs up to the service, they receive a text message directing them to go to the express pick-up counter, Mr Watkins explained.

“But it is really about how we work with our colleagues to make sure we provide the best service,” he added.

Would an "express" lane work in your pharmacy?

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

2 mins to pick up an already done script.

I have been running an express pickup lane for all of my working 22 years (all for independants or myself)

Who knew!

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist


anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

This is like having a leech attached to your arm and instead of removing it safely you instead set up a blood transfusion to replace the blood lost.


The problem is still there.


But I guess the ex-woolworth managers need to keep “innovating” to validate their salary.


I will give you a hint why this will fail in the long run but you don't listen to Pharmacists anyway.


By making an “express lane” you have created a 2 tier system the VIP patient who can “skip” the queue and get their medication straight away and the non-VIP patient that has to queue.


Straight away you have created disgruntled patients without even saying a word :) now the patient has an ultimatum; become a VIP or stay a non-VIP. no one wants to be a 2nd class citizen so the people who don't become VIP leave to get their medication from another pharmacy.


Can you see where this is going? You will be left with only VIP patients and if everyone is using the “express lane” it is no longer an express lane :) now you are back to square one with long queues but have made a claim you can no longer keep.


This might be a crazy idea but have you thought of employing more staff to reduce queue times?

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

There is no "non-VIP" patients in the UK. There are only VIP and VVIP because everyone wants everything fast, efficient, done at high quality, to be able to pick and choose brands or even worse straightaway pickup or same day delivery without having to pay a single penny. Even Amazon Prime charges for £80 per year and they don't even promise straightaway dispatch nor same day delivery! 

Everything is taken for granted here because people see no value in things or services offered for free and are spoon-fed and spoiled to a stage that they think everything simply grows on trees and comes with no cost. No wonder why nhs is collapsing and I believe it will eventually and be privatised. By then these people will learn their lessons how costly drugs actually are when they cannot afford it like the Americans, except it's a very costly lesson and it's too late to go back.

Btw the management at Boots can never be bright enough to think like you here because all the bright and quality ones have already quit as it drives one crazy having to constantly work alongside incompetent people who only has a big mouth. You can probably imagine what's left behind in the company...


Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Another corporate whip cracking fad that devalues pharmacy ....Why not add the 'Fast pass Drive Thru' option? Speed generally has a direct negative effect on accuracy or is there a disclaimer notice  we cannot see ?....Are we ignoring the 'Reasonable promptness' ethos now in the face of the minority of unreasonable patients demands ?

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

I have always felt uneasy at the specsavers advert "it was ready in less than 1 hour even bifocals" I always want them to say "they didn't work mind" . You may not be always able to return medication if faulty

A B, Community pharmacist

The medicine isn't dispensed any quicker than normal. Patients just go to a different place to collect their medicine that has been prepared off site (that is my understanding anyway).

Then they more than likely still go and queue at the medicine counter when something is missing!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

My experience with similiar technology is a lack of understanding. Many a time I've had customers come in and query with the pharmacy, "I haven't received my text message saying my prescription is ready, is my prescription ready?"

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

 "I haven't received my text message saying my prescription is ready, is my prescription ready?"

In my personal experience, these are the customers who ordered the repeats last night and want to put pressure on you. You end up looking everywhere and ring the surgery just to be told it would take minimum 48 hours to process. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I think it is very difficult to change that. But I also think these kinds of services shouldn't be customer-facing. Dispensaries should be allowed space away from customers to be able to work effectively.

Much like how Surgeons don't have a crowd of people egging them on to stitch up their current patient quicker so they can get around to having their own tummy tuck.

Dara Hughes, Community pharmacist

Let me choose my words carefully. In some regards what a customer desires most from a pharmacy service is akin to what they desire from most retail services.  Despite all the very valuable roles played by the pharmacy at its core is their desire for efficient friendly service in one visit. While boots is forever innovating with  technology I believe they have forgotten to focus on the fundamentals of what really makes the system work I.e. sufficient staffing, positive workplace morale and strong  leadership from their pharmacists and ACTs. Without this they will forever have an  inefficient operation in their bricks and mortar pharmacies. Simply putting an express lane on their pharmacy counters will substantially heighten the customers expectation of the service they supply unless they really dig deep and get their core systems in the pharmacy right first. Folks if we’re going to put express lanes in our pharmacies... let’s do them justice and really make them fast... otherwise we’re just pointing over cracks. Our customers are far too clever for that these days.


Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Just because the supermarkets do, it doesn't mean we had to follow suit. Trying to turn community pharmacy into a cutting edge retail operation is part of the reason for its deterioration. Adding EPS and FMD (up to speed with all stock carrying code) with a 'fast lane' to compensate, will achieve very little without the appropriate human resource. Patients assume medication is sat waiting on shelves because surgeries stated that their prescriptions are 'ready'.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Good old FMD, that's gone completely by the wayside hasn't it?

Ranjeev Patel, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I agree 100% with this comments, very true what you have said. I would also like to say that if Boots are describing it as "mixed reaction", you should interpret that as it has been a disaster otherwise they would be singing their own praises.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Mixed reaction - probably that 50% of items are not available at the express pickup leaving the patients annoyed

Word on the street is that this guinea pig flag ship store is the make or break for Boots

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

A.S. Singh I find your little additions of ‘word on the street’ etc in different articles  very amusing! 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Thanks for following ;)

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