Indies continue to trump chains on service


WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — One area in which independent pharmacies always had the chains beat was in service — that is, if you believe any of those pesky consumer surveys.

(THE NEWS: White paper: Independent pharmacist recommendations drive sharper growth across certain OTCs. For the full story, click here)

In general, people tend to give indie pharmacists higher mark on such things as advice and consultations, and even product recommendations. That it is reflected in sales numbers is not surprising — first aid remedies versus bandages is a strong illustration.

But as Bob Dylan sang, "The Times They Are A-Changing," or at least they better be. The big drug chains are making investments to get pharmacists and health experts closer to patients. They all acknowledge that in the future, community pharmacy needs to be more than just filling scripts. The drug store of the future will be a place you go not just for products but for services, particularly of the health-and-wellness variety. Walgreens and Rite Aid are putting iPads in the hands of wellness experts (they each call them something else) to amp up the service. Walgreens has reconfigured the pharmacy so the pharmacist sits out in the middle of the healthcare quadrant of the store — it's as though pharmacy is now one of the three main rings. In Indianapolis, the first market Walgreens converted to its new Well Experience stores, one pharmacy manager started a healthy baby program called Weight Check Wednesdays. Now Walgreens is going to roll the Wellness Experience into downtown Philadelphia.

What do you think? Will the chains ever outdo the indies on service? Post your comments below.

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