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03/10/2022

Problem solvers: Sure, retail pharmacy has challenges, but great minds are exploring solutions

DSN editor in chief Nigel Maynard shares how a panel of consultants, suppliers and pharmacy executives discussed possible solutions to some of the issues the industry is facing.
Nigel F. Maynard
Editorial Director
Nigel F. Maynard profile picture

Experts say retail pharmacy brands are already doing their part to help drive foot traffic: They are transforming their stores into healthcare destinations.

Here at Drug Store News we are constantly talking with industry folks and writing about all of the challenges retail pharmacy is facing. The headwinds are similar for many retail sectors in general, but some are specific to the pharmacy business, whether you’re talking about legacy stand-alone retailers or those within other brick-and-mortar chains.

This month we thought we’d continue the conversation with more experts to find out possible solutions to some of these issues the industry is facing. We assembled a panel of consultants, suppliers and pharmacy executives to discuss the challenges and the fixes.

As a refresher, the challenges facing retail pharmacies include increasing competition from e-commerce players, the need to drive foot traffic into brick-and-mortar stores, the tight labor market, DIR fees and more.

“Building loyalty with reward programs, offering convenience and creating personalized service will also benefit pharmacies.”

Experts say retail pharmacy brands are already doing their part to help drive foot traffic: They are transforming their stores into healthcare destinations. 

“In terms of opportunities, we see many major retail pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, broadening their offerings into healthcare services, which we view positively,” Julie Utterback, senior equity analyst, healthcare, at Morningstar Research Services, told us. “Continued growth in services could increase the productivity of their ubiquitous store footprints — an area of differentiation for the retailers versus local primary care physicians and competing managed care organizations — and make the stores an even more integral part of the U.S. healthcare system.”

Building loyalty with reward programs, offering convenience and creating personalized service will also benefit pharmacies.

“To further encourage a healthy lifestyle, drug stores could award points or rewards for consumers achieving certain fitness milestones, like hitting a step goal or sleeping a set number of hours,” said Sean Burke, a retail industry lead and associate partner at Clarkston Consulting. “Loyalty and reward programs are a great avenue for this.”

Our panel had many other bold — and not so bold — moves for retail pharmacy, but you’ll have to read our story to find out what they had to say. 

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