No flu shots at your store? You can still build sales during flu season

October 8, 2013By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy

0by Jenny Kosek

Two-thirds of U.S. pharmacists have completed the 20 hour pharmacy-based immunization training offered by the American Pharmacist’s Association. Have you?

All 50 states allow pharmacists who have completed this training to offer immunizations in their stores, positioning those pharmacies to attract consumers who seek convenient immunizations without the need to schedule doctor’s visits. Large chains have capitalized on this opportunity during flu season by not only offering walk-in immunization clinics, but by tying immunizations to retail promotions. For instance, consumers who get their flu shots at Safeway locations this year will also receive a coupon for 10% off their basket ring at their next shopping trip. United Supermarkets offers $5 off a grocery purchase to anyone who gets immunized during the month of September.

You can offer similar incentives to attract shoppers to your store for vaccines, but if no one on your staff is certified to administer those vaccines, there are still opportunities for you to increase incremental sales during flu season. As convenient as it has become to receive flu vaccinations, only 46% of Americans choose to do so. That means a lot of consumers and their loved ones will contract the flu this year, and your pharmacy can be the destination they seek to speed up recoveries.

Of course it makes sense to create a flu-remedy endcap or island display, but there are also exciting opportunities for cross-merchandising or for getting creative with categories. Internal pain relievers and multi-symptom remedies address only the beginnings of flu relief for your shoppers. The aches, pains, and chills of the flu can also be eased with external cold or warm therapy products or heating pads, so try including these in your flu-focused merchandising. These external remedies are also an appealing option for patients who may be suffering from nausea or vomiting as a result of the flu and who may be unable to consume medications to treat their symptoms.

Dehydration is a constant concern for flu patients, so including rehydration products (particularly for very young or geriatric patients who may be more prone to dehydration than others) in flu season merchandising is a crucial component. In a pinch, if your store has a soda cooler near the register, a sign explaining the importance of clear liquids to combat dehydration during the flu can move bottles of water, sports drinks, or white soda off of your shelves.

If your store has greeting cards, arrange the get-well card selection prominently near your flu display to encourage customers to include this add-on purchase.

And don’t forget those glorious impulse buys: magazines, books, and small gifts or toys may be added to baskets by flustered caregivers seeking distractions for their no-doubt bored, fussy patients at home (whether it’s their child or their spouse!).

Finally, advertise, advertise, advertise. Promote your pharmacy as a “flu resource center” where shoppers know they can quickly find everything they need to get through the season. The time to prepare for flu season is now, so plan your strategy early to be prepared to assist shoppers when the bug really settles in for the season.

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