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Drug Store 2019


The National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Total Store Expo brings together vendors and retailers across the entire store — pharmacy, OTC, beauty, consumables and general merchandise — and the supply chain executives who get the goods to market. As the industry converges on Las Vegas for this game-changing show, DSN talks to four leading futurists about what the drug store of tomorrow will look like.

Pharmacy, health & wellness

"We won't call it health care — we'll call it health management." – David Houle

David Houle, faculty member, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Fla.

Houle is the author of "The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America" and a producer of the Oscar-nominated 1995 documentary "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream." Click here for the full audio Q&A with Houle.

As pharmacists continue to emerge as important extenders to physicians, pharmacy could play an even greater role in preventive care, branching out into such services as checkups. Partnerships could emerge between pharmacy retailers and companies offering fitness services as payers increase pressure on consumers to safeguard their own health and wellness as a condition for coverage.

There could be a greater emphasis on ancillary businesses, such as clinics and workshops, than on the pharmacy as increased competition for pharmacy customers forces retail pharmacies to diversify beyond drug dispensing. "There's a big opportunity for pharmacies to connect wellness and fitness," said Jim Carroll, owner of Carroll, who focuses on rapid business model change, business transformation and the need for fast-paced innovation, offers more insights here.

Top predictions

  • Device connectivity alters patient, physician and pharmacist relationships.

  • Intelligent pharmaceuticals report on how well they're serving patients.

  • Pharmacists play a greater role in routine services like checkups and shots.

  • Pharmacies offer in-store classes and workshops on yoga and holistic health.

  • Partnerships with spas offer services like massages and shiatsu.


"We have to do much more in 'retailtainment.'" – Jeanine Recckio

Jeanine Recckio, founder, Mirror Mirror Imagination Group

Recckio forecasts trends in the beauty and fashion worlds from Mirror Mirror's New York headquarters and Palm Beach, Fla., design lab. Click here for the full audio Q&A with Recckio.

The latest generation of stores — from the likes of Walgreens, Duane Reade, CVS and Rite Aid — place greater emphasis on the beauty section, giving it a high-class touch similar to that of Sephora. But for many consumers, emulating specialty stores has to go beyond gondolas. For that reason, drug stores can make shopping — especially for beauty products — an experience rather than a job or a chore. This could mean taking cues from fashion stores like H&M and Top Shop, as well as offering high-end beauty services. In other words, increase the "fun" factor, because shopping for beauty is as much about being entertained as it is about the products themselves.

Top predictions

  • Clothing is infused with ingredients to aid beauty and weight loss, (i.e., cosmetextiles).

  • Machines diagnose beauty-related issues like vitamin deficiency.

  • Stores offer speed services like eyebrow touch-ups.

  • Longevity lounges cater to aging customers.

  • Fashion industry exerts greater influence on pharmacy retailers.

Consumables & GM

"It's the whole changing attitude about the way we're supposed to live in cities." – Glen Hiemstra

Glen Hiemstra, owner,

Hiemstra is a protege of Apollo project head Ed Lindaman and has worked with companies like Procter & Gamble and Home Depot, among others. Click here for the full audio Q&A with Hiemstra.

More cities, suburbs and towns are emphasizing walkability, and one of the main things consumers look for when they go walking is food. Historically, drug stores often have carried convenient snack foods, as well as simple refrigerated foods like milk and eggs. But as more people demand convenience, consumers could see a rise in things like sushi bars in the store. Duane Reade has operated sushi bars, and even brew pubs, in its stores for a while now, but such services are tailor-made for a dense, highly walkable city like New York. As even Los Angeles becomes more like New York, consumables will be more about combining convenience, freshness and healthfulness.

Top predictions

  • Retailers save storeroom space by keeping 3-D printers for making small items and components on-demand.

  • Convenient, fresh foods grow in importance.

  • Stores embrace the "Costco model" of flexible merchandising, allowing merchandise to be moved out quickly and replaced as needed.

  • Retailers tune in to social media to learn about tastes and trends.

  • Snacks and beverages promote weight loss and customers embrace "edible beauty."

Merchandising & marketing

"The younger consumers [are] going to be conditioned to understand that they can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, wherever they happen to be, and retailers are going to have to rise to that occasion." – Doug Stephens

Doug Stephens, founder, Retail Prophet

Stephens is the author of "The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism." Click here for the full audio Q&A with Stephens.

The idea that retailers should help customers showroom may seem counterintuitive, but it also could be a way to get them to buy items at the store. Shelves could include screens, for example, that allow customers to read information about an item or reviews when they pick it up.

But convenient access to information is only part of the picture. Now, online retailers like eBay are offering delivery of items not just to permanent addresses, but to any location, as Doug Stephens illustrated in an upcoming TV series on the future of retail when he ordered a Yankees baseball cap and had it delivered to himself on a park bench in New York.

Top predictions

  • Displays allow consumers to "like" items on Facebook or tweet photos.

  • Retailers use in-store technology to assist shoppers with showrooming.

  • Personalized promotions in the store, such as digital endcaps.

  • The divide between brick-and-mortar and digital grows thinner.

  • Plasma-display endcaps allow personalized promotions.

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