By Julie Bonnell for our “99 Ways to Make a Positive Difference in Your Pharmacy” blog series

The better you know your customer the better you can customize your products and services to gain and retain business.  Here is one easy way to gain insight into your customers:

At the checkout, affix a large map of the community you serve to a piece of cardboard or other sturdy material. Select two different colored markers for this project. Assign one color for Rx only and one color for Rx and front-of-store sales. When customers check out, have your clerks explain that you are interested to learn more about who is shopping the store. Ask each customer to pick the marker that best represents them and place a dot on the map a large map of the communityapproximately where they live.

The result is a quick picture of what percentage of your customers are shopping total store or just pharmacy. Additionally, insight can be gained into just how far people are traveling to your store. You may be attracting customers who live outside your neighborhood because your location is close to where they work or play, or you may be attracting them because of the services you offer. Understanding the demographics of these customers can play a role in either increasing the number of customers from those areas or sales to existing customers.

After two weeks, take the map down and have a team meeting with your associates to capture their observations of the customers. They may be able to reveal additional insights from comments shared by customers when they marked the map.

So what could you do to improve sales with the information gathered?

  • Use readily available demographic information to understand household income, education level and household size and age to right size your product mix or services in your store. Many communities have this information available through their chamber of commerce or online.
  • Set a plan for teaching/rewarding staff for add-on purchases to increase front-end sales.
  • Look for ways to increase your points of contact in the communities you are serving to build awareness of your store.
  • Talk with your team to determine what sets you apart from the other options that a customer has to buy your products and services close to where they live. Put together a plan for communicating what the customers see as important and special.

You and your associates will gain valuable insights that can be used to change the front-of-store resulting in measurable improvements to the bottom line of your business.


Julie BonnellJulie is HRG’s Director of Operations and a member of the senior management team. She directs and guides our Client Services, Fulfillment, Category and Product Research & Analysis, Data Assets and Visual Assets teams. She also participates in business development activities and the product development strategies required to support them.

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