Best Practices

Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Static Front End

If your front end never changes, your front end isn’t going to reach its potential. The products you carry should be specific to customer needs.

Whether your front-end is big or small, every product in it needs to be working for you. Every product you sell should be turning regularly and yielding a worthwhile return on investment.

What a profitable front end looks like varies by each individual pharmacy. Influenced by factors like community, competition, and pharmacy location.

The makeup and layout of that front end should also change depending on the season. If your front end never changes, your front end isn’t going to reach its potential. Even if seasonal product isn’t part of your front end, the products you carry and feature should be specific to the current needs of your customers. For example, your pharmacy shouldn’t look the same in cold and flu season as it does during the prime summer vacation months.

Every major retailer, along with the successful small ones, utilize changes in their store layout to feature seasonal product. It helps to keep customers interested and encourages impulse buying. While you don’t want to re-organize your entire front end on the regular, you can follow some simple guidelines to make small, effective changes. The best part? These tips work whether your front end is big, small, or somewhere in between.

  • Start and end with data. The only true way to know what’s succeeding in your front end is through data. Start by understanding the sales trends in your pharmacy. You can compare months, quarters, and years to see what products sell best during what time of year. Your point-of-sale system should be home to all of this data and more. Once you understand the trends, you can make decisions and then track the things that are and aren’t working. Plus, you’ll know what products and departments are making you the most money, and which ones might be losing you money.

  • Maximize your end cap space. End caps are some of the easiest places to move around product with little disruption to overall store layout. Customers are more likely to see product on end caps as they walk by an aisle than they are when it’s buried halfway down the aisle. End caps are also a great place to rotate your seasonal or clearance items or show off new product in your store. Make displays fun and colorful to capture attention.

  • Pay attention to the trends. While you hopefully have a good amount of historical data to lean on, it’s important to be paying attention to current events that might change consumer behavior. The pharmacies that recognize the need for change and adapt quickly will end up being the most successful with their front-end products. If you’d like to hear some great real-world examples of this kind of proactive approach, check out this episode of the PharmacyCrossRoads podcast, where pharmacist and pharmacy owner Shahida Choudhry talks about how she turned a 300 square foot front end into a major profit center.

  • Maximize the space where lines form. Items kept up by the register, or where customers wait while prescriptions are filled, are often impulse buys. Scatter some of your smaller seasonal items or some candy at the checkout counters or put out a few key items like pill cutters or vitamins. Suddenly, customers remember that they are feeling a bit under the weather after all so maybe a good daily multivitamin wouldn’t be such a bad purchase. Don’t be afraid to rotate these items out a little more frequently.

  • Scatter novelty items throughout the store. Many stores are home to a plethora of unique product lines that many customers just don’t know about. Try putting one or two of those great sculptures from a local artist or that snack from your town that should be world famous in a conspicuous area with a sign, “More great gifts located in aisle 10”. 

  • Make reorganization easy on your customers. While changing things up can help you drive sales, the last thing you want to do is make things difficult for your customers, especially if you’ve had the same layout for the last 10 years. Make sure your aisles are clearly marked and that prices are easy to spot on the items or the shelves. You can check with your wholesaler for display options and signage and your POS provider can help you with shelf labeling and shelf talkers to promote special pricing. If you do go through a major change, be sure to have staff on hand to help your customers find what they need if they are in a hurry.

Lastly, remember that not all changes you make will have equal impact. You need to track every change and monitor the data to know what worked and what didn’t. Be ready to respond to the numbers and adapt as needed to create the most profitable front end!

What changes have you implemented to revitalize your front end? Let us know in the comments!

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