G H Q
FINDING THE PERFECT
Perfecting the balancing act between the cost of
operating a pharmacy and generating dollars from
it can be difficult for supermarkets.
BY BARRIE DAWSON
THERE IS VERY LITTLE DOUBT THAT SUPERMARKET PHAR; MACIES are the equal of the drug chains when it comes to basic services. For supermarkets, the real opportunity to thrive exists in accentuating their pharmacy advantages to maximize profits.
“I honestly don’t think that they recognize the sweet spot
that they are in,” says Jeff Wilson, vice president of marketing for QS/1, a pharmacy-management software provider based in
Spartanburg, S.C. “There are opportunities there. They say with
any retail establishment, the three most important things are location, location, location. Well, they are in a destination location.”
A trip to the supermarket is on almost everyone’s weekly to-do list,
which means the customer base for pharmacy success is in place. There
is a great opportunity to provide nutritional guidance. There is a chance
for personal interaction, to do some cross-promotion and to be convenient for the shopper. Drug chains may carry groceries, but shoppers
will not find the produce, fish and lean meats that comprise a healthy
diet in the back of the drugstore.
Dr. John Stanton, professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s
University in Philadelphia, believes another growing advantage for
many supermarkets might be the banner over the front door. For
decades, he says, brand-name products were the attraction and the
name of the store was largely irrelevant.
“What slowly has changed is that the actual name of the retailer in
and of itself has become more trusted—Wegmans, Walmart, Kroger
and the like,” Stanton says. “Kroger has a superior reputation and a lot
of brand trust.”
Logic dictates that brand trust is likely to include the in-store phar-
macy. If the supermarket pharmacy staffers take the time to build per-
sonal relationships with shopper patients, store and pharmacy loyalty
can be enhanced. Stanton adds that friendliness of the people who work
in the pharmacy really matters to customers.
Dr. David Rogers, president of DSR Marketing Systems, based in
Northbrook, Ill., notes that pharmacy represents a relatively small portion of a supermarket’s sales and profits, whereas prescriptions comprise nearly 70 percent of a drug chain’s revenue. That often means drug
chain pharmacists are under more pressure to fill prescriptions than
are their supermarket counterparts.
“One of the big weaknesses of the drugstore chains is the fact that
pharmacists are far too rushed to give proper advice to their customers,”
Rogers says. “That would be a point of advantage that supermarkets