CVS Health invests in, partners with retail convenience app Curbside

By Jonah Comstock

CVS Health has partnered with -- and invested in -- Curbside, a startup that allows customers to order purchases from an app then pick them up outside the store, without ever venturing inside. The pharmacy will both be incorporated into Curbside’s existing app and will create its own app, CVS Express, that serves up Curbside’s experience to CVS customers. The investment will enable the two to work together to potentially extend Curbside's technology into CVS MinuteClinics and pharmacies.

"We believe digital tools are the key to making health care convenient, personal and affordable for our customers, and CVS Express is a perfect embodiment of our digital mission," Brian Tilzer, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at CVS Health, said in a statement. "By working closely with our retail team and partnering with Curbside, who brought industry-leading technology to our platform, we rapidly developed a seamless and simple solution that creates a significant time savings for customers. We are committed to redefining convenience and this will be one of many steps on that journey.”

The terms of the investment are not disclosed. Curbside has raised $34.5 million so far, from investors including Sutter Hill Ventures, Index Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures. The company, founded in 2013, works with several retailers including Target, whose in-store pharmacy business CVS bought last year.

The app is free to use for consumers and doesn’t include any markup on items. And CVS told TechCrunch that so far it hasn’t required the store to hire additional staff either. CVS Express is currently available in San Francisco, Atlanta, and Charlotte, North Carolina, with plans to roll out to additional locations as the year goes on. 

According to the CVS release though, interestingly, the app won’t be usable for pharmacy pickups, just for over-the-counter and front store items.

CVS developed the Express app in its Boston innovation lab and tested it out at some stores in the San Francisco Bay area prior to the full launch. 

"Retail pharmacy is an exciting, competitive landscape that is ripe for digital innovation," Helena Foulkes, Executive Vice President of CVS Health and President of CVS Pharmacy, said in a statement. "This partnership with Curbside allows CVS Health to offer new and more convenient ways for our customers to shop with us ultimately making it easier for them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in a way that works best for them."