Success at Shelf

March 6, 2017By Industry Intuition, Views

Time to Review Front-end Strategies? Fresh approaches in health, beauty, wellness can help offset Rx pressures

By Megan Moyer as seen in Chain Drug Review, February 6, 2017

The front end holds great potential, and you have strategies in place to optimize those sales. But the industry shifts and changes every year, and it might be time to review those strategies to make the most of everything available to help improve the income generated in that section of the drug store. With ever-mounting pressures on prescription margins and a growing propensity for shoppers to self-­select, timing is of the essence.

Assuming your store layouts encourage pharmacy patients to go through the health, beauty and wellness (HBW) departments to reach the pharmacy counter, getting customers stop and look around can be a challenge. There are destination items that some customers come to the store to pick up and, in those cases, cross-merchandising can encourage them to look beyond the product they set out to buy.

For customers who wander the aisles as they wait for their prescription, materials and methods are at your disposal to help encourage impulse sales.

Manufacturers with a healthy promotional budget may provide in-store materials to drive revenue for their brand. Examples include counter displays, full-standing displays, and any number of at-shelf signs or promotional materials. Thoughtfully placing displays in high-traffic paths is a sure way to gain attention, as is any display placed at checkout counters. Promoting at shelf can be trickier, but it has grown more sophisticated in recent years. Coupons, rebate offers and educational materials can be dispensed at shelf as well. There's also technology to spur buyers' interest when they are near and in the store.

At-shelf educational materials are particularly beneficial, especially when you bring in a new-to-market or new-to-your ­assortment item. Since pharmacists and staff aren't always available to help customers in the aisles, having easily accessible, consumer-friendly information at the point of selection can influence sales.

Ensuring staff is well informed so they can best assist customers looking for HBW products is another proven practice. Making staff aware of new products and promotions allows them to pass that valuable information on to shoppers looking for solutions. Ensure your processes for imparting this information to store personnel is effective and make the necessary tweaks to empower them to lead customers to the newest and/or most innovative options available.

Condition-themed endcaps can prove incredibly helpful to shoppers. These cross-category displays can serve as "one-stop" shops for people with that particular ailment. Highlighting these solution centers creates profitable market baskets. Use signage and floor decals that lead to the endcaps. Make sure store associates are knowledgeable about the various displays and the conditions they address.

Using the omni-channel and marketing to further the in-store, at-shelf experience is necessary. Engaging customers with offers that can be used in-store while they interact with you online is a win-win. Use big data to customize promotions and content pushed to shoppers via email or other platforms. Whether consumers are interacting with your store via social media, your website or other sites, keep branding and messaging consistent and keep the "dialogue" going to keep them engaged and strengthen awareness.

Beacon technology, which works with your store's mobile app, is another way to engage shoppers and push offers to them when they are in the vicinity of your store or in front of the shelf. While digital signs have become popular in other retail formats, they haven't been put to use in drug stores to any great extent. This could be the next step in improving the in-store experience for your customers.

Change is key. Being creative can bolster customer interest, and offering value is essential. Use the available tools and employ innovative solutions to convert shoppers when they are there in front of your shelves.