As an independent community pharmacy owner or manager, merchandising should be a prime concern if you're anxious to move your store toward ever increasing revenues. The pharmacy floor plan you choose to incorporate into your store's design can have a major impact on your front-end merchandising efforts. While the products displayed and sold in the merchandising area of your store will typically represent only a fraction of what's earned through the sale of prescription medications in the back end, a thriving front-end area is important for a variety of reasons. For example:
- Customers likely have numerous options for where they purchase their prescriptions. If they opt to buy them at a grocery store pharmacy or a chain store or big-box pharmacy, they'll probably never pay a visit to your independent community drugstore unless you give them a compelling reason to do so.
- While you may run the only pharmacy in your community, residents living in your area most certainly spend time traveling outside the community and have access to other drug retailers. They need to be enticed into shopping with you instead.
- The way in which you display and merchandise your store's products will directly influence your customers' purchase decisions. If items cannot be seen or located, they can't be bought. If they're prominently arranged in high traffic areas they'll likely cause buyer impulse purchases.
- Although your store's front end may bring in only a fraction of your back-end sales, if it's not well stocked and properly merchandised, the only thing bringing your customers in will be your prescription business, for which you'll likely have lots of competition.
Combination Versus Traditional Pharmacy Floor Plan
The pharmacy floor plan you adopt for your store's merchandising area does much to create the store's character. Most every drugstore out there, especially the big-box and chain store renditions, utilize the traditional (or grid) style floor plan and, as a result, this is what most customers entering any drugstore expect to see. This setup typically consists of a center area using gondola shelving for product display with an array of wall units on perimeter walls incorporating slat wall or grid wall panels using any number of display accessories to highlight a variety of items.
An advantage of this type of pharmacy floor plan is that it's familiar to most shoppers and therefore comfortable for them. A disadvantage is that it promotes the tendency for potential buyers to rush through their shopping experience without taking the time to slow down and browse through the merchandise area. Adding something different to the floor plan can help, which is why a combination or blended setup should be considered for your pharmacy.
Building a Combination Display
A loop floor plan, sometimes referred to as a “racetrack,” places heavy emphasis on perimeter wall displays that can incorporate hooks, hangers, shelves, cabinets, hanging bins, baskets or any number of display accessories. Starting with a “power wall” at the right side of the store just after the decompression zone surrounding the entryway, a loop floor plan naturally carries shoppers from one section to the next as display motifs change along each section of wall space.
Building a combination floor plan utilizes the best parts of the loop and the traditional, where gondola shelving is used in the center of the store, within the loop, to provide a scaled-down, centralized grid structure.
With the combination floor plan, gondola runs should be shorter than with a traditional floor plan, with some of your best-selling items displayed at the end of the aisles on end-caps to draw shoppers into this section of your merchandising area.