December 13, 2013By Behind the Shelf Blog, Future of Retail

by Dave Wendland

It seems that virtually every retail format is gunning for independent and regional chain pharmacies. Dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc.) have broadened their assortment of health, beauty, and wellness products significantly. Mass merchandisers (Target, Wal-mart) continue to build new promotions and programs around their wellness and personal care initiatives. Convenience stores are broadening their appeal for fill-in shopping trips. Drug chains are aggressively positioning themselves as a more local and community-focused retailer. And grocery stores are striving to remain relevant by focusing on naturals, organics, pharmacy, and holistic well-being.

Retail reinvention is occurring at all levels, while at the same time mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations continue to mark our retail healthcare landscape. It’s time to retaliate. With mounting change swirling across our industry and as the looming effects and impact of the Affordable Care Act become better understood, you have a few options. You can choose to sit idle and wait for the world to dictate your direction. You can bemoan the circumstances and vocally object to the changes afoot. Or you can take charge of those things that you can affect. That’s what I call “retailiation.”retailiation

Here are a few ways that you can proactively carve out your niche in the marketplace, build on your strengths, and overcome the temptation to succumb to the pressures.

  • Take stock of what differentiates you in your market and promote those differences.
  • Re-examine your inventory and give up those departments or categories that your shoppers no longer find valuable or necessary.
  • Invest in staff training and development – after all this is your MOST valuable asset.
  • Introduce cognitive services that emphasize your role as a vital healthcare provider and patient care advocate.
  • Get out into the community and reintroduce yourself to physicians, institutional care centers, and complementary service providers.
  • Request a third-party assessment to help you see the forest for the trees (often one’s own blinders impede the ability to see opportunity).

Despite the challenges facing the retail healthcare industry, we believe it can remain strong, vibrant, and profitable for those willing to re-examine their role in the market and then do something proactive about it. Your decision to embrace retailiation may be the best business decision you can make. I wish you luck on the new journey that lies ahead. And I invite you to share with me the innovative ways you are embracing change.

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