Stocking Allergy OTCs

The sniffles and sneezes of allergy sufferers will soon be entering your pharmacy. That is, if they haven’t already.

More than 50 million Americans–and many of your patients–suffer from allergies. Because of that, spring is one of your busiest over-the-counter (OTC) seasons. This is the time for allergy sales to skyrocket. But only if you stock your OTCs where patients can easily spot them.

The number of allergy sufferers who use OTCs has increased over the years, which means more patients will be entering your pharmacy in search of self-care options to calm their seasonal allergies. But are your shelves ready? If you aren’t sure how to get top sales out of the allergy category in your pharmacy’s front end, listed below are some helpful tips on allergy marketing, buying behaviors, and advertising.

Allergy relief

This should be the focal point of your front end. Organize all of your allergy products and treatments on end-cap displays and planograms. That way they’re easy for your patients to find. Many patients may not know about new allergy products that have moved to OTC. So, encourage your staff to take the time to help patients choose the right OTC allergy relief products.

Antihistamines at the top

Antihistamines are at the top amongst OTC allergy medications. They’re even favored more than decongestants. Feature various antihistamines in your pharmacy’s front end. This gives your patients options for relief.

You can help patients compare the features of different antihistamines, such as:

  • How long they’ll take to start working
  • How long they’ll last
  • What symptoms they help
  • Side effects

It’s a good idea to do this with decongestants and pain relievers, too, to help patients select the product that will alleviate their symptoms.

Usage depends on location

Allergy product sales may depend on your location. Use your pharmacy’s geographical location to tailor your end caps and front-end displays to patients’ needs.

Are you in the Northwest region of the country? You may want to prominently feature decongestants. You can also add pain relief to the display to capitalize on this buying trend.

If you’re located in the West, you may also want to feature sunscreen along with allergy relief products in order to make the most of your display.

Effects of advertisements

Shoppers will seemingly purchase at least one product over another as a direct result of advertising. That’s why you need to use signage, planograms, and displays from manufacturers.

 Store displays and product layouts should be as customer friendly as possible. During the shelf-placement process, items that are commonly purchased together should be positioned close to one another. For example, customers who purchase decongestants may also need OTC acetaminophen for a congestion headache or petroleum jelly to apply to their sore nose from blowing it so much.

Remember to have more than one allergy display in your store, and place them in different spots. You may think creating only one display to house the allergy medications is suffice, but in reality, it’s not. You also need to change the location of your displays every so often. Place them in different spots around your front end–even if your storefront is small. Customers might walk right past a big display of decongestants by the front door, but then pick up a bottle when they see a smaller display near the pharmacy counter. Remember: when customers stop noticing the displays, you stop making profit.

Planograms are also helpful. There are retail planograms available that have been specifically designed for pharmacies. A planogram is a diagram that visually depicts how products can be ideally organized and displayed on shelves. Using planograms can help you design a layout that encourages your customers to shop and makes it easy for them to find items they need.

Maintaining the appearance of your overall store will make your allergy OTC displays inviting. Simple enhancements like bright lighting, wide aisles, attractive signage, and modern décor will improve the overall look of your front end and create a better store experience for your patients. Make sure everything is clean and orderly.

A common pitfall for community pharmacies is to stock one or two items of a wide variety of front-end products. This will leave the patients thinking one of two things: the pharmacy is out of stock on a lot of items, or your pharmacy is going out of business. Stocking fewer varieties and more products will help avoid the confusion. You’ll also want to find out what other pharmacies in your area are offering as far as OTCs. Then, look for gaps or niche items that you can provide. Be different. From specific brands of supplements to higher-quality products, you can set your OTC products apart from the competition.

Keep in mind that almost 50 percent of all customers check a store’s inventory online before they even step into the store. This means that if you aren’t building an online presence and syncing your OTC inventory, you may be missing out on much-needed foot traffic. So, update your pharmacy website or create a Pointy page to appear in Google searches. Pointy from Google integrates directly with Rx30 and Computer-Rx. They keep your inventory updated online. To upload your items to your custom Pointy page, you just use the handheld barcode scanner to start appearing in local Google searches and compete with the larger retailers in your area.

Cross-promotional items to add to your allergy section:

  • Lip balm
  • Tissues
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal strips
  • Nasal cleansing pots
  • Saline solutions

Educate Patients on Avoidance

While educating your patients on medications to alleviate their seasonal allergies, don’t forget to remind them how to avoid allergy triggers to pollen or molds. Here are some great tips to share from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Keep doors and windows closed during pollen season.
  • Avoid hanging laundry outside – pollen sticks to sheets and towels.
  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • Consider an allergy-grade filter in your home ventilation system and change it regularly.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when the pollen counts are highest.
  • Avoid outdoor activity on days with a high-pollen count.
  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves.
  • Wear a dust mask when cleaning house or gardening.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outside to limit pollen from getting in your eyes.

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 March 2023 issue:

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