Things are changing in the world of modern pharmacy design and layout, partly as a result of studies citing that drug store customers prefer certain things to be provided during their shopping experiences. Retail spending continues at a steady clip by drug store customers and, while the substitution of generics for higher priced prescription medicines has helped contain costs somewhat in the industry, an aging population causing a greater overall demand for medications continues to fuel growth.
While more than 50% of the prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. are provided by the large drug store chains, a respectable percentage (about 18%) are gotten from the more than 20,000 independent pharmacies located throughout the country. And while these smaller independent and neighborhood pharmacies continue to earn most of their revenue from prescription drug dispensing, many are now following new pharmacy trends that are allowing them to significantly boost their bottom lines through increased retail merchandising.
Going Back to the Future
Current pharmacy trends demonstrated by forward-thinking independent store owners involve a retro movement back to the days when the neighborhood drug store was a place where people went for reasons other than just getting their medicines (although that was a main reason too). Today’s best-loved neighborhood pharmacies are a far cry from the large, impersonal, sterile-looking establishments notoriously associated with the big-box chain operations that have become prevalent throughout the country.
The very things being done to help these pharmacies stand out from their competition are exactly what keep customers happy, keep them coming back, and make them to want to recommend your store to friends and family. Here’s a look at some of those current pharmacy trends and how they’re working in favor of the smaller, independent establishments.
- Aesthetics are important.
When a customer enters your store, you want them to feel "at home." This is the total opposite of what most feel when entering the typical big-box pharmacy, with its bright lights and sterile display shelving. Plenty can be done to bring a warmer, more comfortable environment into play, which, by its very nature, makes visitors feel good about being there and makes them to want to come back again.
- Holistic health is in.
Organic health and wellness options are popular today, and your choice of décor and basic store environmental makeup speaks volumes about your feelings on this important topic. Natural-looking materials such as wood, affordable laminates, or different types of stone look-alikes are a better choice for flooring than the usual linoleum or tile flooring that shows little-to-no warmth or character. Harsh fluorescent-tube lighting should be replaced by something warmer like LEDs or full-spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs. Recessed lighting can be used with the addition of occasional spotlights that bring focus to particular display areas. Natural lighting is also a growing trend, obtained by installing skylights or large side-wall windows.
- Provide a refreshment area.
Drug stores used to be known for their soda fountains that would draw visitors in to relax, chat with friends, and get something refreshing to drink. Today, coffee bars and soda fountains are bringing back this trend that most people have forgotten.
Other pharmacy trends include the use of robots and other automated prescription handling technology, which have been shown to increase dispensing safety and provide more time for pharmacists to spend one-on-one with patients. Anything that helps customers feel better about their shopping experience and more valued by your business should be considered for use.
[image credit: Brian Butko]