We compared the shopping experience at the Walmart and Rite Aid pharmacies, and the drugstore chain came out on top

Shoshy Ciment/Business InsiderRite Aid provided a warmer shopping experience than Walmart.
  • Rite Aid is a leading drugstore chain in the US, with close to 2,500 stores in 19 states.
  • Walmart’s pharmacies are also popular and convenient destinations for picking up drugstore needs, especially in the middle of a larger shopping trip.
  • We visited both drugstores to see which provided a better shopping experience. We found the friendly and specialised atmosphere of Rite Aid to be superior to Walmart’s clinical and impersonal pharmacy experience.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Pharmacy” might not be the first word you associate with Walmart. But, the superstore retailer operates one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, according to research from the Drug Channels Institute.

Rite Aid is also a top pharmacy chain, with close to 2,500 stores in 19 states.


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Both Rite Aid and Walmart offer similar products and services, like flu shots and over-the-counter medicine. But each offers a vastly different customer experience – and for something as personal as health and well-being, the customer experience is essential.

We shopped at both drugstores and found that although it was well-stocked, Walmart’s pharmacy and drugstore paled in comparison to Rite Aid. Overall, Rite Aid offered a more personal pharmacy and drugstore experience. This, along with the organised store layout, won us over.

Here was our experience:


First, we stopped by a Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, New Jersey.

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The store was massive, but we eventually made our way to the pharmacy at the center of the store.

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This Walmart store is open 24 hours a day, but the pharmacy had set hours.

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The pharmacy section of the store was indicated by signs and a notable change in floor pattern. The light wood flooring clearly demarcated this section from the rest of the store.

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The aisles in the pharmacy section were what you’d expect at any drugstore.

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But the layout was a little confusing — they didn’t have signs that told customers the contents of each aisle, so we sort of wandered around until we found what we were looking for.

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We eventually found a large selection of Advil …

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… as well as body wash for under $US3 each.

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We also found a sizable cosmetics section …

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… though the nail polish section was looking rather weak at the time.

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Some aisles had a button that allowed customers to call for assistance. This was useful, since some items were locked behind a glass case.

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We couldn’t figure out why this lip balm needed to be locked up.

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By the pharmacy line, there was a sign advertising the Walmart app, which helps customers manage and refill their prescriptions.

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There was even a special line that seemed designated for customers who used the app.

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A lot of the over-the-counter medications were displayed in bulk quantities with giant price signs.

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And for the most part, the items appeared to be going for a bargain.

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We found a machine that checks customers’ body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure for free …

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… as well as a Dr. Scholl’s foot-mapping machine to create custom-fit arch support.

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But in some areas of the pharmacy, it was hard not to notice the mess.

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And many items seemed completely out of place in a drugstore, which wasn’t surprising considering its location within a Walmart Supercenter.

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Overall, though Walmart had all the drugstore essentials, we weren’t impressed with the organisation or shopping experience. Still, we kept an open mind as we went on to the next destination.

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Next up was a Rite Aid store in Manhattan’s Financial District.

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The warm lighting in the store was an obvious contrast to the harsh fluorescent tones of Walmart. From its first impression, Rite Aid was already winning.

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A sign on the door showed the emphasis that the pharmacy placed on personal care and customer service. This was a theme that was evident throughout our whole experience.

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The store entrance had a sign that listed the different wellness services offered, including immunizations and medication therapy management consultations.

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We hit an island of refrigerated goods right away. It was filled with yogurts and prepared salads and wraps.

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We went to check out the rest of the store and were relieved to find clear and coherent signs that indicated the contents of each aisle.

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The cosmetics section was overwhelming. There were dozens of options for every product.

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And unlike at Walmart, the nail polish display was packed with colours.

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We found a similarly vast selection of Advil in Rite Aid, and the prices were overall similar to Walmart’s.

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Overall, the products sold at Rite Aid were also standard drugstore offerings. But we did find some less typical products as well. In one section, we found a shelf of scented candles.

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We also found some wine for only $US4.99.

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Next, we made our way to the pharmacy.

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Here we found a “higi” station that prompted customers to learn about diabetes.

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We also found a table with useful information about vaccinations and certain medications.

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Overall, Rite Aid seemed laser-focused on making the customer feel like they were taken care of in terms of health. There was information about different wellness services located throughout the store.

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However, there were certain sections of the store that seemed be in disarray.

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But for the most part, the store seemed to care about being clean and organised. We even found these complimentary sanitizing wipes.

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It also seemed like fostering a friendly environment for customers was important to Rite Aid.

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From the store layout to the wellness services on offer, Rite Aid offered a personal customer experience that was unmatched by Walmart. This time, Rite Aid won us over as the superior drugstore.

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