For many owners, a viable pharmacy strategy for 2016 must include the consideration of getting their drug store certified as a specialty pharmacy. Statistics now show that the market for specialty drugs is growing so quickly that soon it will comprise a full 50% of the total dollar amount of the drugs dispensed in the U.S. each year. Pharmacies opting out of this segment of the industry are likely to fall behind those who are willing to actively pursue this lucrative area of drug dispensing.
Although the certification requirements for specialty pharmacies are still a little bit hazy, with some drug stores classifying themselves as a "specialty pharmacy" without getting certified, it shouldn't be long before becoming officially certified will be a requirement and those without the credential will no longer be able to act in the capacity of dispensing specialty drugs. Because of this, a prudent pharmacy strategy for those interested in entering this segment of pharmaceutical dispensing might do well to become certified now. There are also other details that must be addressed in this matter, including obtaining specialized equipment capable of proper storage and handling of these specialty medications.
Current Pharmacy Trends
Today's independent, community pharmacies have learned something from the big boys, namely the national chain and big-box drug stores, on how not to be. Some decades ago many smaller Mom and Pop drug stores were put out of business because they were unable to compete with the big stores, both on price and selection, which caused many of these community pharmacies to fall by the wayside.
In those days, drug stores were primarily seen as product delivery businesses. They were the place you went when you needed to buy your medicine or other items typically sold in drug stores. Today, however, more and more consumers are looking for a more service-oriented experience with a personal touch that is simply not available in the big stores. The bright fluorescent lighting, shiny linoleum floors, and sterile-looking product displays are often seen as impersonal, cold, and unfriendly by many.
This has caused a resurgence in the growth of smaller, independent drug stores that are successfully using the pharmacy strategy of standing apart from and above the big name competition by offering customers more of what they really want, such as:
- A comfortable, friendly, welcoming environment in a store where the staff, especially the pharmacist, knows and greets them by name.
- Modern product displays highlighted by soothing (yet focused) lighting provided by non-fluorescent alternatives such as LEDs with the addition of natural lighting from skylights and/or large windows in exterior walls. Bringing in some non-pollinating plants will also help foster a more natural-looking retail space.
- Floors made from natural-looking materials such as wood, stone, tile or even carpet are a big improvement over the conventional choice of linoleum for flooring. Opt for walls painted in colors other than the traditional institutional white. Large, bright signage should point out different departments within the store, and a foot traffic pattern should allow your visitors to easily meander through all parts of the front merchandising area naturally.
- A gathering spot such as a coffee/tea/soft drink area or even a counter serving malts and milkshakes is a great way to bring people together and have them stay for a while. This represents a bit of nostalgia from the past that many customers are happy to see come back to their community pharmacy.
These are all ways to help your store stand out from the competition. Each is a proven example of a pharmacy strategy that can help you to build a better business.