Front End

Grade and Optimize Your Pharmacy's Image

Is your pharmacy's image drawing customers in or scaring them away? Here are some key factors you should be paying attention to.

While there are many places in your pharmacy business where you don't have full control, you do have complete control over the image that you are projecting to your patients and customers. This article will discuss all of the factors that play into that image and why it's so important to every pharmacy.  Yes - even an apothecary-style pharmacy with 100 or fewer SKUs in their front-end. 

So, as you read on, ask yourself: What image does my pharmacy project? What impressions do customers (or potential customers) walk away with just from a first look at your parking lot, front counter or shelves?

Understanding Neuroscience & Your Pharmacy

What drives someone to make a decision? To pick an item up off the shelf, or make an unplanned purchase? There’s no precise formula, but there are influencing factors and key neuroscience-based takeaways. Most importantly, you need to understand that people are not rational shoppers. Shoppers are unconsciously attracted by pleasure and a feeling of reward. This unconscious thought drives up to 80% of consumer purchase behavior. That’s a huge number, and it’s so important to keep in mind as you consider the importance of image in the overall success in your pharmacy.

Visual merchandising plays a key role in influencing that unconscious behavior and helps create customer value by making the shopper journey efficient, unique and memorable. Think about your pharmacy and whether you’re actively working towards an experience that meets these criteria.

Key Factors in Store Appearance

  • Building Exterior or Parking Lot – How many people are driving or walking past your pharmacy every day that have never stopped in? Why? Is the parking lot and building exterior dirty or rundown? Is it clean and tidy but without anything to draw the eye or create any kind of feeling? Think about the businesses that have drawn you in and what it was that made you feel that way.

  • Entryway – Once someone is through the door, your entryway is responsible for first impressions. Is it welcoming, clean and continuing that feeling that brought the customer in to begin with? Your entryway also needs to be the point where customers are greeted by your friendly staff.

  • Flooring – Did you know that wood flooring is better for influencing buying behavior? There’s perceived value based on just that material! If you can’t have wood or faux wood flooring for any number of completely valid reasons, make sure it’s clean and free from damage.

  • Lighting – Is your lighting dim and dreary or is it bright? Do you have lighting to showcase specific areas? Banish flickering lights and replace them with attractive options that are not only pleasing to the eye but highlight product placement.

  • Signage First, you should have it. Signage tells your customers where things are, what the current specials are, if you are promoting vaccines, if you have a big event coming up, and more. You name it; if you want customers to know it, put it on a sign! They can be easily designed using online tools (I’m a big fan of Canva) and printed for a relatively low cost. Second, we’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. In signage, that’s really true! When it comes to signage, pictures are just better. And if you’re going to have pictures and words together, the picture should go on the left with text on the right. A picture on the right with text on the left is almost as bad as having no picture at all.

  • Cleanliness – Dust bunnies are the enemy. Would you buy a product that came from a dirty, dusty shelf? Or would you get a vaccine in an environment that was dingy and dirty? Make cleaning part of your regular store recovery processes. (If you don’t have a recovery process, stay tuned to next week's blog for how to implement one!)

  • Clutter/Bare Shelves – Both clutter and bare shelves are equally bad. If you have too much to look at and too many things going on, it makes it really hard for customers to get drawn in and makes it seem like there’s no direction and thought to your products. Bare shelves not only mean customers can’t find what they’re looking for, but they could draw other conclusions, too. We all know that supply chain issues are real, so if you have an out of stock for that reason, use signage to fill in the gap, and consider replacement with something else (even if it’s only temporary). You can also consider shelves that aren't quite as deep.

  • Fixtures – Just like flooring, when you display on wood, people attach value. They believe that the product is of higher quality and that they should pay more money for it, and they do. Consider updating bulky shelving units one at a time.

  • Merchandising – If you walked into a high-end boutique, you would have a certain expectation for how that store should feel. There wouldn’t be the cluttered aisles of a discount retailer. You’d find curated displays, giving the products a chance to shine. There’s no reason a pharmacy can’t adopt his same strategy. Consider ditching some of your aisles and stale planograms in favor of standalone displays that are intentionally curated to feature products and product lines that draw people in.

  • Team – Your pharmacy staff have a big impact on image. Not just visually (although a neat, uniformed appearance with a nametag is strongly recommended), but in how they interact with customers. As we mentioned before, your team should be greeting customers as they enter the store, be knowledgeable about products and maintain a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. 

How to Make the Necessary Changes

If you’re finding that your pharmacy image needs some TLC, that’s okay. It’s an ongoing process and one that doesn’t happen overnight. First, figure out what you need to change. Use this free download to grade your pharmacy on key appearance factors and then prioritize the things that you need to change. If new fixtures are on the list, replace them one at a time. If it’s merchandising, you might have a few misses before you hit a home run. The important thing is to track where you are, what changes you make and what your results are. For more on how to do that, you can watch our CLIMB broadcast from September for a breakdown of visual merchandising, consumer behaviors and determining ROI in your pharmacy.               

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