Your Extraordinary Front End

Your customers are on a mission. Whether they’re in your pharmacy to pick up a prescription, grab a box of bandages, a magazine, or a bottle of multivitamins, they know you’ll have what they need. What they don’t know, however, is what fun, exceptional items they may find in the front of your store that will make its way into their cart.

Displaying the right products in your front end will help boost foot traffic and improve your bottom line. In fact, average margins on front-end merchandise are 15 percent higher than the margins on prescription sales. So, what are you waiting for?

Do you remember the last time you studied the front end of your store? If not, it’s time. You need to know what products are displayed and how long they’ve been there. Your front end should draw attention and bring in sales. If your customers don’t linger for long, it’s time to revamp the shelves with something new.

Make a great impression on your patients by keeping up with the cleanliness and layout of your store. Here are some ideas to consider:

Try a new layout

Motivate your patients to shop and increase retail sales by changing up your front-end layout. Look at your shelves and fixtures. Consider moving them around to make areas look larger or less cluttered. Increase end-cap space. Highlight a particular display to draw more attention. If you feel you need help with this project, hire a design expert.

Light it up

If your lighting is too dim and dismal, it’s time for improvement. The right lighting can make your front end look completely different and much more exciting. Remove any fluorescent lighting. It’s been proven to induce stress. Instead, boost the natural light coming into your pharmacy. If that doesn’t work, incandescent lights are the next best option.

Eye-catching shelving

Increase sales with attractive pharmacy shelving. Find custom shelving that fits with the overall design of your front end to dramatically improve the look and usability.

“We have a very non-traditional front end,” said Erin Merritt, PharmD and owner of Modern Apothecary Pharmacy in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “I have maybe two gondola racks in my entire store. Most of our shelving came from a legal library, so it’s older-looking wood shelving. I have a lot of antiques sprinkled throughout the store in displays on shelves, next to the homemade soap made by a local artisan, jewelry, and so on. I also found a vintage bathtub that we converted into a table so that all of our soap is in the bathtub.”

End caps for the win

Excite patients with your endcap displays. Use them to feature, promote, and sell products. But be sure to change the displays at least once a month and with every season.

Stock it like it’s hot

Once you’ve got the right lighting, shelves, and layout, get creative with the front of your store. As you begin stocking, include hot-selling items people want and need, such as cellphone needs, first aid, pain relief, and sunglasses. But don’t forget to add a sprinkle or three of unique products here and there to draw in even more sales. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Custom jewelry: Present some one-of-a-kind, fun styles that aren’t found at most stores. Find a local jewelry artist and offer to display his or her chic designs along with some fashionable retail jewelry.
  • Popular toys: Once upon a time, fidget spinners were the hot trend filling front ends. While that fad has passed, others have taken its place. Stock the front of your store with dolls, toy cars, coloring books, baseball cards, candy, and today’s latest trend.
  • Local honey: Find someone in your community who makes and sells honey. Customers love homemade products made by someone in their vicinity.
  • Greeting cards made by local artists or design studios: Shoppers are always looking for something out of the ordinary to give to a loved one. Be sure to restock as the display starts to dwindle, otherwise your sales will plummet as well.
  • Soaps and lotions made by local artisans: If there is someone in or near your community who makes natural soaps or lotions, this is a great front-end product because it’s natural and locally made.

Also, Merritt says she’s found a lot of different options for products on the website “It allows you to buy from smaller, local vendors and you can filter by location if you want something local to your state. We’ve found a lot of our products that way.

Some of the specific brands we carry have been requests from patients, and some products are things that I like and what I thought people would like.”

Merritt also carries a lot of locally sourced products, regional products, and natural products, such as candles, greeting cards, professional supplements, men’s grooming items, and even supplies recommended by a local lactation consultant along with a depot and dispensary for breast milk.

To make sure her inventory is turning, Merritt keeps an eye on sales numbers. “We have pharmacy software and have everything in there individually. That way we can pull up day-by-day sales if we want to. We usually just check them every couple of weeks.”

Wanting to change things up in your pharmacy front end? Merritt suggests buying unique front-end products in small quantities to see how they’ll sell. Look for local talent, or check out sites like, and a marketplace where you can search for locally sourced products.

When it comes to your front end, show your patients you mean business. Invite them into your pharmacy with your clean, clutter-free shelves, bright and inviting lighting, and a variety of truly special products they’ll love.

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 September 2023 issue:

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