4 ways retail pharmacies can become one-stop-shops for healthcare convenience


Steve Light

Vice President
Consumer Health
Cardinal Health

What I am about to say isn’t new or transformative.

We have all heard this tidbit before and we all know it well. Healthcare is transforming, and consumers and patients have access to a wealth of information and are taking on additional responsibilities for their healthcare decisions.  Right now, we also know they are looking for a trusted healthcare advisor to guide them through all the noise.

We believe that community pharmacists are in the perfect position to fill that role to help their customers and their families live healthier lives, and there is a great opportunity to drive tremendous growth in retail sales as pharmacists work with consumers on their healthcare decisions.

There are three areas of focus that will help drive retail pharmacy sales growth:

  • Increasing household penetration and reaching more shoppers;
  • Getting those shoppers who are currently in the store to come back for more visits, and
  • Getting shoppers to spend more while they are in the store.

Here are some quick steps retail pharmacy owners can take to position their stores as one-stop-shops for healthcare convenience, while helping customers live healthier lives.

Remember first impressions count.

We all know the saying that you need to make a great first impression, and in retail that starts the moment a customer walks into a store. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and walk through your front door. What do you see first? What kind of feeling and impression do you get when you look around? There is a lot that can be done to make a great first impression, and great retailers use merchandise and marketing – and some theatrics – to capture a customer’s attention. Think about where there’s an opportunity and how to create a first impression with customers. We have seen a number of community pharmacists who recognized an opportunity in their stores and made the change to help their customers. They also grew their retail sales as a result.  Here are a couple of ideas:

Understand the demographics of your community - and their needs - then deliver on those needs.

For example, if a pharmacy has a large number of diabetic patients, consider stocking compression garments, nutritional products, shoes, test strips and incontinence supplies.  These are all products that diabetes patients are likely to need – and by making them available at the pharmacy, retailers can deliver patients added convenience while also diversifying their bottom lines.

Serve the community beyond prescriptions and retail offerings…consider developing wellness plans in conjunction with other community partners.

These programs can include health screenings, educational opportunities, Medicare Part D enrollment help, and vaccination sessions. For example, we have seen community pharmacists partner with local colleges and wellness centers to develop partnerships that help the community. These partnerships create traffic to the pharmacy, while allowing the pharmacist to continue to devote time to patients as the wellness partners who support the program.

  • Update  endcaps and place seasonal items in view of customers when they walk into the store
  • Improve the visibility of signage in the store and the aisle ways.  Customers are used to looking for signs to quickly find what they are looking to buy
  • Position high sales items near the register as last-minute purchases

Train staff to be customer service stewards.

Another quick opportunity to drive retail sales growth is reminding staff to take advantage of the opportunity they have to impact overall health as customers pick up their script. For example, many of the scripts retail pharmacies fill each week have a number of side effects, one being nutrient depletion. Take the opportunity to work with staff to recognize certain scripts and have them engage with customers to suggest other items in your store – vitamins, supplements, skin care items – that might be used with the script to help improve customers’ positive health outcomes.

We know that most retail pharmacists entered this profession to impact lives in their communities and we want to help them do just that. The consumers who are leaving retail pharmacies with just their prescription have other needs that their local pharmacy can easily fulfill. They may be mothers needing probiotics for their children, or an elderly patient who needs durable medical equipment to help them at their home. Retail pharmacies have the power and are perfectly positioned to be sure every one of their customers has everything they need to live the healthiest life possible.