Leveraging Non-Pharmacy Assets

As an independent pharmacist you want your pharmacy to stand out. You want to draw people in with your store’s offerings and generate profit that you can take to the bank.

When the market is tight, you need to make strategic investments that decrease costs and improve your customers’ experience. When doing so, invest in areas that address consumer demands and the changing industry. Asking your customers is the first step.

“Getting in touch with your customers is the best source,” said Dave Wendland, Vice President, strategic relations and member of the Hamacher Resource Group (HRG) owner group. “Ask every customer who walks through the checkout, ‘Is there anything else that you’d like for me to stock in my store?’ That simple question, puts you in touch with customers, and they are the best source because they’re going to tell you.”

You may have customers tell you they want to see pet supplies in your store, a hardware section so they can avoid the big-box stores, or seasonal or local items because they don’t know where else to get them.

Also, don’t shy away from shopping the aisles of other stores. You can see a lot just by looking around. Here’s how:

Pay Attention to Detail

Wendland advises pharmacists to truly examine other retailers. “Shop in your community. If you go into a local hardware store, the local grocer, or the local bakery, ask yourself, ‘What is on the shelves here that could find a home in my store?’” he said.

Learn Patients’ Wants and Needs

Your non-pharmacy offerings can range from durable medical equipment to sundries to locally made products that  will make your pharmacy unique. Products like these can boost  your front-end sales and help  your pharmacy succeed. The trick is picking the right products that your customers will want to buy.

“I would look at niche products that are in the 40 to 50 percent margin range minimally. It’s not about quantity of turns, it’s about serving the need and generating margin every time that product is sold,” Wendland said. “Partner with a local provider, such as a farmer who raises honey, and then display the natural honey. If that doesn’t carry a 50-percent margin, I would question whether it deserves space in the store.”

But even with these, the market can become iffy. That’s why it’s so important to stock products that are coveted by your customers, such as herbal supplements, reading glasses, or durable medical equipment (DME). For example, the market for DME is expected to grow. That means you have a tremendous opportunity to create an additional profit center by offering DME in your pharmacy.

Patients who are managing chronic conditions or are in rehabilitation after a surgery or injury often need more than just prescriptions. And if you’re already filling their prescriptions, you will also be their source for non-prescription needs. That means you’ll need products that will assist your patients with limited mobility such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. Patients may also require toileting products like commodes or bedpans. By providing DME products in your pharmacy, you and your staff are much more involved and proactive in your patients’ overall well-being.

Add Something New

“I encourage you to test and fail. I encourage you to try something because your intuition tells you it may be a good item. But be cautious that you’re not overcommitting space, resources, and so on. There’s no reason that you can’t bring in a couple of items and put them in a really cool location,” Wendland said.

If you’re bringing in a new line and you’re excited about it, don’t hide it in the corner. Put it front and center. One good place to stock new products is the pharmacy counter. Ninety percent of the patients who go into a pharmacy head to the prescription area first. Make sure you have an end cap or a counter display there. You can also set up a display under or near the pharmacy counter where you can introduce a new product and customers can test it.

“You have to have a plan to place it properly, communicate it broadly, and activate that customer to say, ‘Yes, I’m willing to try it.’ Listen closely when the customer says, ‘That makes no sense to me. I’m not interested in this product.’ Don’t keep pushing a cart up a hill if that hill is too steep. On the other hand, don’t give up too quickly,” Wendland said.

When you stock a new product in your pharmacy, be sure to give it a 60-day period to cycle through enough customers to get feedback. If it hasn’t sold any units after 60 days, or if it has very little interest and you feel it’s just taking up space, move it out. Then, try something else.

“A 60-day period is a good time to test and fail or test and learn,” Wendland said. “It has to be something that carries a strong margin when you bring it into your store. But more importantly, it has to be something consumers will buy that generates margin that you can take to the bank.”

High-Profit, Front-End Products

  • CBD
  • Durable medical equipment (DME)
  • Essential oils
  • High-end vitamins
    and supplements
  • Mother and baby products
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Seasonal items
  • Wound care

High-Profit Services

  • Compounding
  • Long-term care
  • Point-of-care testing
  • Veterinary medicine

From the Magazine

This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.

More articles from the June 2023 issue:

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