How to Recommend Front-End Products Like a Pro

February 27, 2015By Articles, Independent Pharmacy


Written by and published in Elements magazine, February 20, 2015

How many front-end product recommendations are you making each day? Eight? Five? None?

A survey of independent pharmacies, Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, found that independent community pharmacies make an average of 10 product recommendations a day, but 41 percent of pharmacists surveyed said they make only one to five over-the-counter (OTC) product recommendations per day.

Recommending front-end products in combination with prescription sales can boost profitability and help patients. Plus, product recommendations build your reputation as a health care expert.

It’s not always easy to fit product recommendations into your already full workload. Plus, pharmacists want to feel like health providers—not salesmen. Check out these tips to help you make more product recommendations that actually matter to patients.

1. Situate products for successful sales

A new study from Hamacher Resource Group and the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Pharmacist and Patient Conversations at Independent Pharmacy, found that front-end sales performance is stronger when the most commonly recommended products are located near the pharmacy counter.

Consider rearranging your products so the end caps or aisles closest to the pharmacy counter contain your favorite or most-recommended items. Having these products in front of you will help remind you to make recommendations.

2. Use knowledge to aid sales

According to the same Hamacher study, pharmacists cited vitamins, wound care and medicated skin care among the categories where patients needed more information and support.

Use your knowledge about these topics to offer advice and product recommendations to patients with these problems. Your expertise can help them select the right OTC product, and their purchases will boost your pharmacy’s bottom line.

3. Identify a need

Often, the best and most personal recommendations are made by identifying a patient’s need. Listen to patients’ issues, and then find a way you can help. If you don’t stock a product that patients are requesting, consider adding it to your lineup.

Pharmacists cited patient requests as the most common influencer on new product decisions, according to the Hamacher study. By adding products your patients request, you’ll fill their needs while earning more non-prescription sales.

4. Pick products to promote

Identify products you’re going to recommend ahead of time. You can create a rotating recommended product category that updates each week or month. Let staff members add their own favorite products into the group, too.

You can place samples of these products near the counter so you and your staff can easily point them out to patients. Having a preselected group will help boost non-prescription sales by giving you and your staff set products to recommend.

5. Know the trends

If you’re having difficulty figuring out what products to recommend, try researching commonly recommended products. For example, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) conducts an annual survey that looks at what OTC products pharmacists most commonly recommend. If you’re unsure about what products to recommend to your patients, use this list for guidance.