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Editor’s note: A new journey


Why here? And Why now?

Two great questions as I begin my journey as the editor in chief of Drug Store News. Why here is an easy one. I am joining one of the premier retail business publications in the land, one that has a long and storied record of closely covering the rapidly changing and pretty complex chain pharmacy industry over the years. DSN has a well-deserved reputation for keeping retailers and suppliers in the know of what is going on now, as well as what may be happening down the line.

It is called staying ahead of the curve, and in the trade publishing industry, few publications have done a better job of that than what Drug Store News has done through its print and cutting-edge digital properties. So I am honored to be here and to join the team.

Why now is a much more difficult question to answer. It is no secret that the retail industry is reeling, hurt by a nasty combination of intense competition, increasing regulations and that 800-pound gorilla in the room that happens to go by the name of Amazon. There has not been a more challenging time for retailers in at least the last 100 years than right now.

But merchants — at least the good ones — are not just going to put up the white flag and go away quietly. As the industry has shown before, necessity is the mother of invention. Amazon and other digital-focused operations are quickly changing the retail landscape, forcing more entrenched and traditional operators to adopt their own unique merchandising strategies to survive in this brutal arena. Retail today is a giant test lab, or at least it should be.

I have no doubt that those that react quickly and effectively to this challenge will survive the onslaught of Amazon et al. They will develop programs and policies that will keep consumers coming through the front door and leaving, with lots of paid merchandise, through the checkstand. Those who do not will end up as part of the growing list of retailers who failed to see the future and the steps needed to get their company there.

Drug stores and other retailers that operate pharmacies are among the best-positioned merchants to fight off the Amazon challenge. Consumers want to directly interact with their pharmacist. They want and need answers to hard questions, and only an educated and readily available healthcare expert can do that. Shoppers also want the products most important to them — including their prescriptions, wellness and beauty items — to be available in a convenient, safe and reasonably priced location. We have a lot to build on.

But it will not be easy. It is going to take a lot of work and a lot of imagination on the parts of the retailers and, yes, their manufacturer partners.

This is a scary time to be a retailer. But, as we go through this transition to the digital age, it also is one of the most exciting times for our industry.

I’m happy to be part of this and super excited to be right in the middle of the action here at Drug Store News.

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