Since making this blog post, SignIQ has changed its name to Last Yard.
Years gone by have seen tremendous change to the Pharmacy Industry. Chemist Warehouse has continued to expand their ever-growing empire, Supermarkets are stocking larger ranges of pharmacy products and reforms to the PBS have sent shockwaves through the industry. These changes have left all pharmacies to deal with the aftermath of smaller margins and more competition.
In the climate of shrinking back of house profits, pharmacies must improve how they sell front of shop items. Only through greater in-store efficiency and by taking cues from ‘fast moving consumer goods’ (FMCG) retail tactics can this be fully realised. Pharmacists simply must become better retailers to thrive. Below is a list of a few things you can do to help convert shoppers into paying customers.
1. Increase Foot Traffic
The first opportunity that pharmacies have is to increase the number of customers in their store. To achieve this, your pharmacy needs to look appealing and exciting to passers-by from the outside. So make a great window display, put up a big sign, roll out the red carpet. The point is, you need to get creative, look at your pharmacy the way a customer does and make yourself want to walk in. Also, making your store a destination for things other than scripts and becoming a holistic health services hub for the local community is imperative. The more reasons someone has to visit your store, the more they will.
2. Train your staff to be available and approachable
Retail is becoming a job of tasks instead of a job of interacting with customers. Staff are often so busy trying to tick things off their to-do list that they ignore shoppers in the store. Staff must understand that customer purchases pay their wages, and if they see a customer in the store who needs help, they should drop the task to help a shopper every time. The cherry on top here is to learn your customer’s name and use it.
3. Train your staff to have product knowledge
Having your staff approachable is one thing, but being able to help a customer effectively is another. Putting in the effort to ensure your staff are knowledgeable about the products you sell is a sure-fire way to ensure that when they speak to customers, they can be giving reliable and helpful advice that can convert into more product sold.
Cross-selling or up-selling is a great way to help increase the average spend. Perhaps the best example of this is the age-old “would you like fries with that?” A simple question that has seen billions of dollars in revenue flow through the tills of fast food outlets all around the world for as long as anyone can remember. It’s not a big effort, and the rewards are significant. In pharmacy, you are the trusted health professional that patients come to when they are in need. If a patient comes in for cold and flu medicine, something like suggesting a vitamin supplement to compliment the treatment and prevention of getting sick again will not just increase the average spend, it says that you care about the patient, that you have really listened, and they will automatically think of you the next time they need something. Learn to ask in your own way “would you like fries with that?”
5. Store ambience / retail theatre – themes and events in store
Having themes and events in the store is a great way to create a buzz and attract customers. Hold information days/nights, members-only events, wellness weeks or any other event you deem worthy. There is an entire range of different and compelling events that are driving home messages about health and wellbeing that can be used as a sales tool for people visiting the store. You just need to put your thinking cap on and make it happen.
6. Make products easy to find
Nothing is worse than looking around a store for a specific item and not being able to find it. You must ensure that your store is carrying an appropriate level of stock, that the shelves are clean and organised, and that all products are brought to the front of the shelf and are labelled correctly. This is often called “fronting” or “facing”. The easier it is for shoppers to find your products, the easier it is to buy them.
Ticketing is often looked at as a necessary evil, rather than the best sales tool you have. The ticket is the only thing in your store that can add value to every area we have already discussed. They can help customers find products, they can support a theme or event to bring ambience to the store, they can cross-sell and up-sell other items, they can contain product knowledge to ensure the customer is informed, the list goes on and on about their application. Tickets are valuable for far more than discount or price promotions that cut your margin. Think outside the box, use it as a salesperson you can always rely on, ensure it is done correctly, and watch the differences it makes not just to your customers, but to your bottom line.
Following these steps will give your pharmacy the best chance of becoming and remaining competitive.