10 Ways to Turn Front-End Shoppers into Buyers

February 25, 2015By Articles, Independent Pharmacy


Written by and published in Elements magazine, February 11, 2015

Your front end might not be where your independent community pharmacy makes most of its profit, but studies show, it has potential!

A new study from Hamacher Resource Group and the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Pharmacist and Patient Conversations at Independent Pharmacy, found that for the average independent pharmacy, 14 percent of sales come from front-end purchases and 86 percent of sales derive from prescriptions.

The study also found that 86 percent of independent pharmacists report that their front ends are growing, or holding steady. This marks a 13 percent increase from what pharmacists reported the year before. Clearly, there’s potential for front-end sales to become a greater percentage of total revenue.

You can help spur this growth by transforming your patients from front-end shoppers into buyers. You probably already have many shoppers in your front end, but buyers, who are more engaged and interested in choosing their purchases, have the potential to really boost your front end.

Here are some tips on how to engage your patients in their front-end purchases and help them convert from shoppers into buyers.

1. Create a shopping experience

Stock products that will get patients excited to shop your front end. Maybe it’s a unique product not sold in other pharmacies, or a full selection of health, beauty and wellness products that make your front end a one-stop shop.

2. Put reviews near the products

Popularity can drive sales. For many patients, just knowing that a certain product is a bestseller or that it’s highly rated by pharmacists or even other patients will cinch the sale.

Write reviews of products you recommend, and place them next to the products on the shelves. Your patients will be drawn to look at them, and more willing to choose the product.

3. Put recommended products near you

The Hamacher study found that the closer OTC products were to the pharmacy department, the more likely pharmacists were to recommend them.

This also ensures that patients just coming in to fill their prescriptions will see some of your best products without having to browse the aisles of your front end.

Try moving your top-selling products to a display near the counter, or make a display of your own favorite products. Just making them more visible and closer to you will help! (Download our free “Our Pharmacist Recommends” shelf talkers!)

4. Make personal recommendations

The Hamacher study referenced personal recommendations specifically as a way to boost front-end sales. Try to recommend products during conversations with patients. Then, they can explore the aisles on their own, investigate and make their buying choice.

5. Encourage word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth can create buzz about a product that will help it sell. Your patients might share products they’re excited about on their own, but you can easily use social media to create word-of-mouth. Post about new or unique products and top sellers to start discussions online about your front end. Patients will be curious about the products, and excited to find them in your store.

6. Give your patients choices

Let patients make the “right” choice when purchasing. Offer multiple options in different product categories so that patients feel like they’re able to choose the “best” option. Offering multiple choices creates the perception of higher quality, and your patients will ultimately be willing to pay more for the “best” product.

7. Use merchandising strategies

Price your front end products in a way that maximizes your sales but also gives your patients a deal. One option is to use a pricing strategy where a third option is presented to make an earlier one seem more desirable. For example, you could price a tube of lip balm for $2, the lip balm and a bottle of lotion for $8 or the bottle of lotion by itself for $8. The last option encourages your patients to purchase both the lip balm and the lotion.

8. Bundle products to increase sales

If you offer a bundled deal, you’re likely to increase your average sale per customer—both the amount of items and the dollar amount. Instead of offering an item at a discount, you can bundle it with another product to encourage patients to purchase both. Like with a decoy, patients who might have only purchased the cheaper product will now consider choosing both.

9. Encourage connected patients

Encourage the use of mobile devices in your store—they help patients choose and buy products. You can stand out by making your website mobile-responsive, or by texting coupon codes and discounts.

10. Use prices to show quality

Your patients will often use a product’s price to judge its quality. Knowing this, offer a selection of high- and low-cost product options and be confident that the more expensive product will be selected more often.

In a pharmacy, this is most apparent when it comes to brand and generic OTC products. Your patients will most often purchase brand-name products over store brands, despite little difference in quality. Stock both, giving your patients different price options, and boost your sales when they make the more expensive choice.

Make the shopping experience in your front end into a selection experience, and watch your front-end sales grow.