Reimagining the retail front end
My wife and I were in a Manhattan pharmacy last year when one of our old topics of discussion came up: Why are some pharmacies stuffed to the gills with so much stuff? It’s a question that has puzzled me (us) for years. Our position is that pharmacies can be a tad more selective with their front-end inventory.
In all fairness to this particular store on the East Side of New York City, the footprint was limited by its urban location. But its square footage aside, the store was packed tight with merchandise and the store was hard to navigate (literally).
Of course, not all retail pharmacies are as stuffed as that store in Manhattan, but I’ve seen enough of them to know that many could use some editing. Plus, if retail pharmacies continue to pivot toward increased healthcare services, it’s more than likely that they’ll have to perform SKU rationalization to fit in more waiting room space for patients.
This is already happening. At NACDS Annual in Palm Beach, Fla., several retailers told my colleague and me that they are reevaluating the items in their stores, reconsidering front-end space and thinking more about how the retail pharmacy of the future is going to look.
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These are all important but complex considerations. After all, space is limited, healthcare services are growing and, let’s face it, not all products are going to be a hit with consumers. The decision to keep or ditch them will become even more important in the coming years.
It is with this backdrop that we tackled this month’s cover story (page 28): finding new products during a pandemic and supply chain issues.
The reality is not that encouraging right now. Our writer found that many retail pharmacies are having a hard time because there is a serious new product shortage, brought on by pandemic-related supply chain constraints, worker shortages and other issues. Moreover, CPG manufacturers are not investing hefty sums in developing and marketing new items.
With the slow pace of new products, perhaps now is a good time for retail pharmacies to develop a strategy for dealing with these front-end and store-design issues. It’s something that will play a bigger role in the future, so why not start working on them now?