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

I have heard many times from retailers, “How can I compare to or compete with Wal-mart?” Many retailers struggle with that question. Let’s be honest, it would be difficult to “out Wal-mart” Wal-mart. The question should not be “How can I be the same as Wal-mart?” but rather “How can I be different and better than Wal-mart?” Consider not competing on the same elements of value that others focus on, but rather on the areas where you can differentiate and excel.

The steps to differentiating are:

Know your customers
Ultimately, independent retailers are not competing for the same customer as Wal-mart; therefore you should not be utilizing similar strategies to deliver the same shopping experience. Remember price is only one variable in the value equation and Wal-mart has mastered it. About 20% of consumers shop strictly based on price. This group should not be your target market. However, you can compete for the value/image shoppers who represent approximately 60%, and the remaining 20% or so who have no sensitivity to price. You can provide your customers a different shopping experience by focusing on the other aspects of the value equation and delivering to or exceeding expectations.

you can stand apartKnow your competitors
Specifically, in what areas do they underperform when delivering to customers’ needs? In which areas are they strong? Identify potential opportunities and then deliver a superior experience. Customer service and patient interaction continue to be a strength for independent pharmacies. According to a 2014 Consumer Reports study, independent pharmacies earned top marks for speed and accuracy, courtesy and helpfulness, and pharmacists’ knowledge. Ensure you are excelling in these areas so you can leverage the independent “brand.”

Big box stores regard their patrons as “customers” and have less focus on healthcare. At independent pharmacies, patrons are treated as “patients” with an emphasis on health and wellness. That connection is critical in establishing a lifelong relationship – when transactional sales become generational sales.

Differentiating yourself and formulating a strategy is a crucial step. A little thought and effort about how you can stand apart from your competitors will help you focus on the things you need to do to succeed in your market.

Sean GrudzinskiSean is a member of the Hamacher management team, overseeing all product research and analysis. In addition, Sean establishes the strategic direction and standards for our master item file and related attributes as well as HBW, HHC and prescription pricing services. Sean works directly with internal and external customers to manage strategic projects from inception to implementation. 

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