Halloween may be filled with spooky costumes, scary movies and haunted houses, but to me, Halloween doesn't have anything on the Holiday Season.
Maybe that's partly because Halloween is immediately followed by weeks of my children having way too much fun enjoying the spoils of trick-or-treating. But mostly, it's probably because the end of the year, and the Holiday Season, can be stressful. No matter how much I plan or how early I start, there never seems to be enough time to be comfortable.
For retailers, the holiday shopping season is likely to be in full swing in no time at all. With Thanksgiving falling later in the month this year, everyone is thinking about getting a jump start.
So, in what's become a bit of a holiday season tradition here at RMS, here are our top tips for keeping your retail pharmacy running smoothly during the holidays. And they're a couple weeks early, so you can get ahead of the rush. (Or at least give it your best try)
• Make sure your shelves are stocked. Customers that come in to pick up something specific aren’t likely to wait in long lines just to ask if you have more. Also keep over stock easily accessible for quick restocking during slack times or after hours.
• Consider extended holiday hours. Everyone is busy this time of year and while your customers may not normally be night owls they’ll appreciate the convenience of an extra hour in the evening to do their shopping. Even pharmacies without retail heavy front ends can consider extended hours to give customers extra time to pick up prescriptions and OTC necessities and discourage convenience shopping elsewhere.
• Take a look at last year’s sales and staff appropriately. Your POS system should offer an option to see the hourly customer count for a specified timeframe so that you can identify peak times for you store.
• Be prepared to make the most of your slack times with pre-assigned projects. For example, have the clerk running your least busy register assigned to stock and tidy shelves during that slow hour in the middle of the afternoon.
• Place product strategically throughout your store. Put your stocking stuffers next to the checkout, or where customers wait while their prescriptions are prepared. If you have a new item that you’d like to push, have it next to your holiday best sellers. This is another area where your POS system can help by identifying your most popular products.
• Prepare your staff. For some employees this may be their first retail experience and the busy holiday season can be overwhelming. Make sure they understand their responsibilities and priorities, provide them with a resource if they need assistance (perhaps an experienced clerk or store manager) and you’ll help them keep a positive attitude even during the most hectic times. It’s also important to make sure they take a break, even if they don’t think there’s time. A burnt out and tired employee is less effective and your customers will notice.
• Don’t be afraid to get into the spirit of the season! Sometimes we all forget what the holidays are about and that enthusiastic pharmacy assistant may just brighten someone’s day and help your store to stand out from the crowd.
All these tips should hopefully help you manage your business, employees and customers much more efficiently, and using technology such as our pharmacy point-of-sale solutions should help you manage your business better and can ensure a successful holiday season!