Best Practices For Pharmacy Retailers – Part I: From Absentee Owner to Front-Line Employee

Harvey Brofman
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Online, Online, Online… But you are a traditional brick and mortar. You have patients or customers coming into your store. They may be perusing your product displays or waiting for prescriptions. This is an opportune time to assist them in creating an emotional connection to your products. A shopper can pick up an item and see how it feels, how it smells, how it looks.

You have an advantage. Customers in your store are already spending their most valuable currency – time. In spite of all the talk of retail’s demise, brick and mortar stores can still excel in merchandising, in selling, and in creating an exceptional retail experience.

Independent retail pharmacy has been notoriously bad at capitalizing on this advantage, but that reality doesn’t have to continue. In many ways, there are no downsides being a brick and mortar retailer.  There are more tools than ever to collect, analyze and optimize the experience in your store. It starts with a good Point of Sale system.

In pharmacy, unlike other retailers where traffic is down, you still have it. You can help the customer maximize their shopping experience if you follow some simple guidelines associated with the best practices of great retailers.  Here are a few best practices to take advantage of the retail traffic you may currently take for granted.

Great retailers have well-oiled supply chains so customers don’t arrive at your store to find the product they desire is out of stock.  They limit price and promotions because they keep a tight rein on inventory to maximize turn and margin. It doesn’t mean you don’t put on sales, but they need not be so frequent that customers can time their purchases to wait for the deal.

Great retailers offer competitive pay, incentives, training, and benefits. They have consistency in staff; not inexperienced employees as their norm. In fact, in pharmacy, familiarity breeds trust.

Great retailers have a budget to train employees how to sell the merchandise. Make sure there is staff in the store to engage with customers as well as fill the shelves and other related tasks. There is a reason a Walgreen’s employee actively seeks to Welcome you and ask how they can help.  You can’t do more engagement with less staff.  You simply lose your employees to competing tasks, rather than helping customers.

If you are an absentee owner, the great owners know the names of all employees in their stores and they make sure to talk to all of them on a store visit. Too many owners come in, go directly to the pharmacist or store manager, slotting no time to engage with other employees. At its heart, retail is a people business. It starts with you, the people that interact with your customers are a reflection of you, they are your face to those customers.

Be genuine. Don’t complain about margins to employees while you drive up to work in your luxury car while your employees take a bus. They notice, they see it, they feel it and are affected by it.

Great retailers recognize individual employees throughout the day so everyone feels valued and appreciated. From the daily morning huddle to the weekly store meetings, great managers make their employees’ day so their employees will make the customers’ day.

Insightful pharmacy retailers understand the benefits of engaging with customers, patients. It’s a pharmacy! A caring smile and a hello go a long way to trust and relationships, this has an effect on sales.

When a customer is in your store, their business is yours to miss. If business is slow, product isn’t moving, you can blame it on the internet, you can blame it all on your shoppers, but first, you should look in the mirror, it may be your own fault.  The good news is, you get a chance to start over with the next person walking through your doors.


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