CVS Pharmacy

CVS, named one of the largest companies in the world by Fortune Magazine, is a wonderful place for CPG brands to land shelf space. With over 9,000 locations across every state in the U.S., a deal with CVS can bring a lot of exposure and revenue that an emerging CPG brand needs to continue its growth.  

If your brand has recently secured a deal with CVS, there are many important steps to sort out behind the scenes before your product appears on store shelves. A crucial part of the process is the logistics of delivering your freight to CVS distribution centers. Every large retailer has its own set of delivery requirements, scheduling processes, and chargeback systems — and CVS is no different.  

Common Pain Points When Shipping to CVS 

Appointment Scheduling 

An important detail to know about CVS scheduling is that it runs strict appointment facilities. This means that you will need to set an appointment ahead of time and deliver at that scheduled time. If your driver is late or does not show up for an appointment, your brand will face chargebacks and your scorecard will be affected negatively.  

CVS utilizes a portal for appointment scheduling. Once an appointment is requested on the portal, an email is sent when the request is approved, typically 12-24 hours after the first request. Our experts recommend scheduling appointments 10-14 days in advance to ensure an appointment is available for your orders’ Ship to Arrive date (STA, the CVS version of MABD).  

Pallet & Packaging Requirements 

CVS maintains a strict standard for the configuration and overall condition of the pallets it brings into its warehouses. Pallets must be standard-sized and in good condition with all product shrink-wrapped and not hanging over the pallet. Occasionally, or for specific locations, additional requirements like corner posts and bottom deck boards are also required.  

CVS’s complete shipping guidelines run about 44 pages long. Even if your transportation manager is familiar with these requirements, the details still need to be communicated to your shipping warehouse and carriers that will transport the load. This means there are many opportunities for miscommunication – especially in the beginning stages of a new relationship.  

Vendor Chargebacks 

Failure to comply with the STA, pallet configuration, or appointment adherence standards can all result in your brand being charged hefty fees by CVS. These fines are calculated based on a percentage of the total cost of the offending PO and are typically in the range of 1.5-3%, depending on the overall scorecard of the vendor.  

Late arrivals to appointments or rescheduling an appointment less than 24 hours before the appointment also carries a flat fine of $275 to the vendor. An incorrect or missing BOL (bill of lading) or packing list also incurs a fine of $100 for each offense. 

If not controlled from the start, these chargebacks can build up and quickly eat into a CPG brand’s bottom line. It is important to maintain compliance with CVS standards to ensure no money is left on the table and preserve a high scorecard.  

Steps to Succeed in CVS 

Communicate Carefully 

There are many details to align when delivering to CVS locations, so careful communication is imperative. Pro tip: avoid rushing through confirmations, double-check all info before passing to carriers, and make sure your team is on the same page with every outbound order.  

The last thing you want is a fine on an otherwise perfectly correct order because information is missing on the BOL or packing list.  

Schedule in Advance 

Our experts recommend scheduling appointments 10–14 days in advance to ensure an appointment is available during your STA. This also allows for flex time in case of issues or changes in the order’s details.  

At Zipline Logistics, our standard practice is to schedule an appointment within 4 hours of receiving a CVS order from a client. 

Utilize Preferred Carriers 

CVS has a preferred carrier program to assist vendors in selecting a reliable carrier. These carriers are familiar with CVS deliveries and have high performance levels. LTL carriers on the preferred carrier list have drop-trailer agreements, and all carriers on the list can adjust appointments without penalty.  

If you decide to handle your own transportation to CVS distribution centers, these carriers are an effective way to start off on the right foot. 

Let Zipline Take CVS Transportation off Your Plate 

Want to get daily logistics tasks off your plate and into the hands of someone with extensive experience in meeting distribution center requirements, you can let us handle it!  We have relationships with many carriers on the preferred list and can ensure that your scorecard looks pristine. 

Our expert operators, world-class service, and tailored strategies have allowed us to help brands like yours grow effectively. Here are some stats we are proud to share: 

  • 95% on-time in-full average for appointments    
  • World-class customer satisfaction score ranking 5 times the industry average   
  • National network of 38,000+ hand-picked carriers vetted to haul retail goods specifically   
  • 97% of our orders are destined to land on a retail shelf 

We have the tools and expertise to help you reach your goals and scale your business so if you need help delivering into CVS, do not hesitate to reach out. 

Gain Success in CVS