2016 Front-End Overhaul Tips Archive

November 2016


Items You Can Promote For Christmas Without Having to Discount Post-Holiday

Stocking Stuffers: Batteries, single bar candy, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, skin moisturizers, multivitamins, light compression stockings, back-to-campus needs, sunglasses, reading glasses, baby teething rings, massage oils, essential oils, lip balm, nail polish (holiday colors), aftershave, or body wash. Add a business-card sized sign below each item: "Makes a great stocking stuffer!"

Gift Wrapping Accessories: Red, green, silver and white bows from your card department, as well as glitter, glue, scotch tape, packaging tape from school supplies, money holder greeting cards, or store gift certificates.

Gifts You Can Pre-Wrap: Sell these items as holiday gifts and then, the day after Christmas, unwrap and place back on the shelf with no discount: boxed candy, fragrances, jar candles, jewelry, or individual plush toys (tie a bow on them).

DME: Tie a large, red bow on lift chairs and add a sign: "This Christmas, give them the best seat in the house." Do the same for fashion canes—add a sign: "Give them a splash of color!"

Send me a note at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org: What was the oddest item you have ever sold as a stocking stuffer? I'll go first: Denco toenail clipper.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Tips on Selling Boxed Holiday Cards

Traditionally, you will see boxed cards start to sell earlier in the holiday season than single cards as people who purchase a boxed card assortment tend to plan ahead. Conversely, boxed cards will slow in sales later in the season; single cards will sell right up until closing time the night before the actual holiday. How's your inventory? The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe reviews the secrets to profitably inventorying and selling boxed and single holiday cards. Read it today and get your holiday cards out on the shelf if they aren't already...Christmas is only six weeks away!

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

5 Things Store Owners Need to Do Today to Be Ready for the Holidays

November, December, and January will be busy for a number of reasons. Not only is it holiday season, it is also peak season for the flu, winter colds, dry skin, and rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Here are five tasks you can complete today to get a jumpstart on busy season.

  1. Set the employee schedule for November, December, and January. Keep in mind that the day after Thanksgiving is the last Friday of the month and there is a good chance the pharmacy will be busy. Consider bringing in extra staff to help with drop-offs and pick-ups. Christmas and New Year's Day are on a Sunday. Many will be wishing for the Saturday before and/or the Monday after off. (Now is a good time to review your call-in sick policy.)

  2. Monitor your parking lot! Remind all employees, with no exceptions, to park as far and as safely away as possible from the store. Each day, take a photo of the parking lot at 4 p.m. Do you see a pattern of vehicles parked in those valuable, close-to-the-door spaces? Find out who they are and ask them to move.

  3. Set your signs and exterior lights to ensure a safe environment around your store and make it clear when you are open. Remember, Nov. 6 is Daylight Saving Time (set your clocks back one hour).

  4. 'Tis the season for shoplifting. Review your return policy with every employee, as well as your policy for handling shoplifting and/or robbery. Check your panic button or emergency call systems and make sure everyone knows when and how to use them. Tip: The top items for theft are diabetic strips, cosmetics, pregnancy tests, family planning items, and Prilosec.

  5. Decorate with purpose. Decorating a store for the holidays can be fun, but in many cases, it is overdone. For an uncluttered look and for safety, keep all doors completely clear of decorations and signs. Limit the number of decorations on windows and do not create blind spots in front of your store. Use caution when hanging decorations from the ceiling; when the heating or cooling system kicks on, these decorations can start to sway and set off your motion-sensor alarm.

Keep all aisles wide open; do not let decorations crowd an aisle. If decorating a tree, place small items high enough so they cannot be reached by toddlers. (The best way to decorate a tree is with lights, nothing else—simple and uncluttered.) A good rule for decorating is "less is more." Resist hanging anything near the pharmacy counter that might obstruct the pharmacy staff's view of the sales floor.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

October 2016


Take Notes on Your Halloween Selling Season

What a difference a day makes. With Halloween on a Monday this year, trick-or-treaters will be calling it a night a bit earlier due to school the next day, unlike a Halloween that lands on a Friday or Saturday. A Monday Halloween means there will be lots of children's and adult parties on Friday and Saturday night. As a result, history tells us there will be more costumes and makeup for adults sold and a visible spike in Halloween decorations. You may experience a small downturn in single-serve candy typically given out at the door and more sales in "dish" candy. Halloween in 2017 lands on a Tuesday. Sales for this year's Halloween season will be similar to 2017, so take good notes this year to allow you to be an even better buyer for 2017. More treats, less tricks.

P.S. - You may be wondering what exactly you should be recording for your sales notes. My new note-taking guide gives you an outline of notes you should be making for the Halloween season. It's not too late to start taking notes for this year's Halloween selling season, and definitely be sure to record your observations on Nov. 1. Keep this form handy for future years. Good luck!

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Prepare Now for November’s American Diabetes Month

November may be two weeks away, but it is bursting with sales opportunities for Diabetes Month, and the time to prepare is now. First: identify and sign all sugar-free items in your store; look to add to your offerings by bringing in sugar-free chocolates and/or snacks. Place a sample of a shoe for diabetics in your foot care section and display socks for diabetics as well. Feature a multivitamin tailored for diabetic needs at all pick-up counters. Don't forget the signs!

Consider running the following promotions: Receive two free pairs of diabetic socks with the purchase of a pair of diabetic shoes. If you do not carry shoes, offer one pair of diabetic socks with the purchase of a multivitamin. Or, receive a free tube of hydrating cream for diabetics with the purchase of a pair of socks and a multivitamin. You could also put together a trick-or-treat bag of goodies for diabetics and hand them out Halloween weekend – anything sugar-free would be appreciated, as would samples of vitamins and/or skin creams.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

"I Hope I Break Even... I Could Use the Money"

A few years back when I was playing a Wheel of Fortune slot machine, the gentleman sitting next to me slid a large bill into the machine and then turned to me and said, "I hope I break even, I could use the money." I didn't know if I was supposed to laugh or wish him luck.

I got to thinking about how many times I have put myself or watched others put themselves in that same position while gambling with the revenue of a store. In my latest One-Pager Tip, I outline common gambles some community pharmacy owners take with inventory, advertising budgets, and revenue, and how you can avoid making the same poor bets. By following these tips, you won't need luck on your side to find success and profits in your pharmacy.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Generate Sales Beyond Halloween Candy

Don't sell candy at your store, or competing with a dollar store? You can still find Halloween sales opportunities in cosmetics, hairspray, specialty treats like sugar-free or gluten-free candies, and non-candy alternatives like pens, pencils, stickers, and crayons. Create a “Halloween Safety Headquarters” end-cap stocked with batteries, flashlights, glow sticks/necklaces, and reflective tape.

Stores that sell cosmetics have an opportunity to unload the slower moving and/or discontinued colors as "Makeup for Monsters & Zombies"; the darker the colors, the better. Encourage makeup instead of a mask for safety reasons. Don't forget to include makeup remover and cotton squares with your display. Placing red and black nail polishes by the register can generate impulse sales. A sign reading “Don't forget the hairspray” near the makeup can lead to a nice add-on sale. (Here's a good chance to sell that one leftover tube of VO5 Hairdressing!)

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

September 2016


Why Compression Hosiery May Be Right For You

Compression stockings sales continue to grow (sales are expected to reach $4.4 billion by 2024). It's a category that chains shy away from or put little or no effort in trying to sell; they are more than happy just to sell the basic women's 8-15 mmHg mild compression socks. Thanks to the availability of new styles and textures, the customer base for compression hosiery is growing by leaps and bounds to patients with a simple edema diagnosis, expectant mothers, travelers, seniors, beauticians, doctors, nurses... just about anyone who is on their feet for any length of time.

Stockings can offer a 40 to 60 percent profit margin. To be successful, you need at least one or two certified fitters (certification and training is sometimes available from hosiery vendors), a fitting room, 4 feet of merchandising space (preferably on a wall), and one or two leg mannequins. (Note: Not all compression stocking sales require fitting; casual, low-compression knee-high hosiery "grab and go" products are seeing a surge in popularity thanks to colorful and stylish new designs.) Spend some time detailing local physicians on what you have to offer.

Here is a tip from successful pharmacy owner and certified hosiery fitter Jack Dunn of Jasper Drugs: "Keep a measuring tape in your pocket; nothing slows down a sale more than running around looking for tape." Compression hosiery is not for everyone, but it could be right for your store.

(P.S. – We're devoting an entire educational program on this important topic at the NCPA Annual Convention in October. Hear from Jack and another successful store owner about how they were able to generate profits for their pharmacies with this niche.)

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Rethink How You Buy Halloween Candy

Let's face it: an independent pharmacy will most likely not have the best price in town on Halloween candy and may find it difficult to be competitive. Stores will be hard pressed to make a 33 percent profit margin (after freight cost). At such a low margin, it is very important you do not have much stock leftover on Nov. 1. The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe tells you how to buy smart when it comes to stocking Halloween candy and how you should merchandise the candy on your shelves to maximize sales. People won't buy candy until October, but to be noticed and remind customers you sell it, get it out on shelves now.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

How Are Your Vitamins Selling?

It's time to research the profitability of your supplement section. Are most of the vitamins you have on the shelf selling? Are they there to fill customers' needs, fill a planogram, or complete a vendor set? Are you offering choices of quality or choices of colored labels? Would 4 feet of one brand sell nearly as much as 8 feet of the same brand? Is the massive choice of vitamins paralyzing your customers' decision making? Consider a total section of 12 feet of vitamins: 4 feet of major brands such as Centrum, One-A-Day, etc., then 4 feet of an economically priced A to Z vitamin brand, and the remaining 4 feet of premium "our pharmacist recommends" vitamins. Less product, less explaining, and more sales per foot.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

When to Walk Away from a Best-Selling Gift Item

While recently attending a national gift show, I saw what was hailed to be one of the hottest items at the show. It was hard to pay attention with all of the oohs and ahhs coming from the crowd. Everyone was giddy over this new hot techy item. This item was indeed intriguing and I wanted one...I just didn't want to ever sell one. Why? If you have to explain how to use an item and don't have someone walking your sales floor to demo the product, walk away. Read my latest tip for more.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

August 2016


Smart Schooling for Your Business

As I put together the final edits for the 2017 Daily Pharmacy Planning Guide (pre-order your copy now!), I came across this quote from Rear Admiral Grace Hopper: "The most dangerous phrase in language is, ‘We've always done it this way.'"

You can't keep doing the same thing with your front end and expecting better results every time. As a pharmacy owner/manager, it's important to constantly stay up-to-date on the newest merchandising trends and product ideas. It's also important to keep your front end looking fresh and inviting to attract customers and sales. Sometimes you may need some new ideas to help you make the most of your front end in order to build store traffic and profit—that's where NCPA comes in.

In addition to the tips and advice posted on this site weekly, I encourage you to consider attending my Front-End Profit-Building Seminar sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy in New Orleans Oct. 14 (also offered Nov. 12 in Edison, N.J. and Feb. 17 in Orange, Calif.). For 10 hours, you will receive concrete, usable tools that will make a difference in your business right away, such as easy fixes to create curb appeal, floor plan and cross-merchandising ideas, inventory management advice, and marketing guides.

Seats book quickly, so please don't wait to sign up. I want to see you in New Orleans, New Jersey, or California, and together we can help you build a better business.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

End-of-Summer Reminders

Have you and your staff completed the following?

  • Posted your Labor Day weekend store hours on your entrance door, pharmacy counter, website, and social media accounts.

  • Adjusted your employee schedule to prepare for a busy Friday, Sept. 2 and Tuesday, Sept. 6.

  • Checked deadlines for placing Labor Day weekend orders with your wholesaler and other vendors.

  • Ordered enough product to create a holiday weekend “Road Trip Needs” end-cap featuring products such as snacks, water bottles, pain relievers, bug sprays, sunscreen, and lip balm with SPF.

  • Hung up your flu shots banners and signs.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Back-to-School Merchandising Opportunity

Create a "Back to Sports" end-cap with braces and wraps, hot/cold therapy items, mild pain relievers, and bandages. Anticipate your sports brace/wrap needs by talking with school athletic directors or coaches about the brands they prefer. The most important part of the display? You guessed it: THE SIGN.

 

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Merchandising & Marketing Tips for the 2016-17 Flu Season

Millions of Americans will catch the flu this year. That number will easily be trumped by the number of Americans who will do their best to steer clear of getting it. Do your customers a great service: offer different ways to avoid the flu and ways to find relief from flu symptoms. The latest tip from Gabe includes flu season end-cap and sign ideas, as well as recommendations for popular cough & cold brand-name products to carry. The time to stock up on your cough & cold inventory is now!

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

To-Do List Item: Order Banners for Flu Shots

Order your flu shot banners and signage now to be prepared for the start of flu shot and immunization season in August and September. A simple message like "Flu shots available here!" will do the trick. In addition, check the area for administering flu shots and immunizations—is it clean and clutter-free?

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

July 2016


Promote Sunscreen

July is UV Safety Month and a great hook to use in promoting your inventory of sunscreen products and sunglasses on a well-merchandised end-cap. Many people take their summer vacations in August, too, so continued promotion of sun care products through Labor Day is a must. Check your stock and ensure you have enough sunscreen products to meet demand. Add a clip strip or bowl of premium lip balm with UV protection at every register and the pharmacy counter. Be sure to add a sign to your displays. Ideas: "Sunscreen has an expiration date, make sure yours is fresh!" or "UV Protection Available Here."

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Why I Dislike Spinners

I have often wondered why I rarely see two customers shop from the same spinner display. A majority of retailers love spinners because they can often hold the same amount of product that a 4-foot traditional wall display can while only taking up 2 feet of space. Then I figured it out while I tried to pick out a pair of earrings for my daughter. Just as I was eyeing blue gems with gold dangles, like magic, they disappeared because someone was on the other side of the spinner treating it like the wheel in "The Price Is Right's" Showcase Showdown. Read my latest tip on why—and how—you should get rid of your spinners.

Gabe Trahan, NCPA Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing

Front-End Overhaul

Front-End Reality Check

When most store owners are asked what their percentage of OTC sales to total store gross sales is, typically the answer is 10 percent. In all cases it is not 10 percent. For an accurate number, we have to look at what is considered OTC. A broad definition of what qualifies as OTC is an item that can be purchased without a prescription and is found in the traditional health and personal care categories. It does not include DME, greeting cards, gifts, candy, and general merchandise. In a perfect world with no big box stores or dollar stores nibbling away at your front-end sales, 10 percent would be a reasonable figure, but in this world, at least 7 percent is realistic. The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe shows you how to understand, verify, and unlock front-end sales opportunities through better inventory management.

Front-End Overhaul

June 2016


Gabe Q&A

I received the following question from an NCPA member that I am reproducing here for everyone. Please send me your questions at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org.

What is a simple program I can use to create signs for my store?
I like to use PowerPoint to create in-store signs. Select the standard 4:3 slide size. You can also make the orientation of the slides portrait to create 5 x 7" signs. Using a blank slide template, you can insert text and change the size, font, and color. You can also insert photos or shapes and choose from clip art or pre-loaded images. I like to use Google images to find appropriate artwork and insert them into my slides, but be sure to respect copyright or trademark restrictions. The beauty of PowerPoint is that you can easily resize and relocate images and text boxes and experiment with color, backgrounds, and borders.

When you are ready to print, you'll notice the slide has a border—PowerPoint does not print to the edges of the paper. If you don't want white borders on your signs, try working around your printer settings by selecting "Page Sizing & Handling" in your print function, then "Custom Scale," and then adjust the percentage higher than 100 percent.

For creative sign ideas and inspiration, check out my Front-End Overhaul of Fame signage gallery.

Front-End Overhaul

Deciding to Sell Diapers

When deciding to add any new category or an extension of an existing one, you must ask yourself these three questions: Will it create measurable revenue? Will it attract new customers? And will it enhance my image? If you can answer yes to at least two of the questions, then you are safe to include the line in your inventory...unless the item is diapers. At best, diapers will only fill one of the above requirements, so you will have to decide if they are worth the space and investment. Read the latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe to discover if selling diapers is right for your pharmacy (you may be surprised by the answer).

Front-End Overhaul

Shelf Placement Reminders

  • Choose the size of your category by what is needed, not by the size of the fixture.

  • When it comes to nontraditional product that does not appear on a planogram, remember to merchandise by value, not by size. The item with the biggest ring at the register goes at eye-level; sometimes that item might be the largest. For example, you might see a typical end-cap of vaporizers and facial tissue with tissue placed on the top of the display and vaporizers at the bottom. Experienced merchandisers will reverse the placement with the more expensive vaporizers at the top.

  • To enhance the visibility of product on a base shelf, place a slanted shelf over the top of the base shelf.

  • Decorating and wrapping shelves is not merchandising, it’s decorating. Be the best at merchandising. Instead of decorating, let the items be the star on the shelves.

Front-End Overhaul

Using Planograms Effectively

When it comes to inventorying traditional OTC items, use your planograms! Planograms should be viewed as a map, pointing you toward proper subcategory placement, priority product placement, new item placement, and suggestions on removing slower-selling items. Like all maps, planograms offer one way to get you where you want to go; it is up to a good merchandiser to explore other routes without wandering in the wrong direction. Move product around within its respective subcategories. Research line-extensions; do you really need more flavors and larger sizes? Analyze new item entries. Are the new items a well-recognized brand, or will you have to depend on health providers to recommend the product? Do you need every size of the new item? Use your planograms as well as your product knowledge and history of customer needs to make your planograms even better.

Front-End Overhaul

May 2016


Nobody Likes Leftovers, Especially When It Comes to Fashion

Sunglasses are a fashion item and a form of eye protection. When the display rack is kept clean, has at least two mirrors, and doesn't look picked over, the display can be a steady, year-round source of revenue. Read more tips for keeping your rack well-stocked and selling throughout the year.

Front-End Overhaul

Bye Bye Bugs End-Cap

Worries about mosquito-borne viruses like Zika and West Nile continue to increase, and consumers are already seeking protection. The time is NOW to prepare your counter and/or end-cap with insect repellent and itch-relief solutions. Offer a variety of products, including all-natural repellents (looking for one to stock? Healing Tree manufactures an all-natural repellent spray—find it on frontendmarketplace.com). Inventory enough insect repellent to last you at least three months. The bigger the display, the greater the sales. If you have the space and inventory, create an end-cap in a prominent location and set it up now before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Add a sign! Bonus: Add bug bite prevention tips to your social media accounts and website; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful bug bite prevention webpage.

Front-End Overhaul

The Merits of Shorter Fixtures

As a pharmacy owner or front-end manager, you will inevitably have to purchase new fixtures, whether it’s for a remodel or to build out a new store. Many manufacturers will recommend a gondola fixture height of 66 inches and wall fixtures of 96 inches high; you’ll notice many chain drugstores use fixtures this high. But what’s good for the chains is not necessarily good for a community pharmacy. The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe explains why shorter is better when it comes to fixtures and what you should look for before your buy.

Front-End Overhaul

Gabe Q&A

I received the following question from an NCPA member that I am reproducing here for everyone. Please send me your questions at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org.

How can I know what's popular in my area?
My favorite method is simple, but effective: ask the customer. Make sure to have a want book at every register and require staff to ask customers if they found everything they were looking for. If the customer says no and offers an explanation of what they were hoping to find, that item needs to be written in the want book. The want book should be checked at least once a week, typically before sending in an OTC order. Of course, not everything in your want book will warrant a special order or even be available to you; use your discretion in choosing what you add to your inventory.

Create a few signs, large enough to read from 10 feet away: "Can't find what you are looking for? Just ask! We have access thousands of items and most can be shipped in 24 hours." This is true for all stores—those thousands of items are actually sitting in your wholesaler's warehouse. Think of your wholesaler's inventory as an extension of your backroom! Some stores have purchased an inexpensive flat screen TV to run a loop of a PowerPoint slideshow featuring unique services the store offers, health reminders, specials, and the question, "Can't find what you are looking for?"

I also recommend visiting your competition to do some "basket watching." Be aware of what people are buying from stores in the same vein as yours. See any trends?

For an idea of what's new in the drugstore industry, go to www.drugstorenews.com and sign up for their free newsletter. In addition, sign up for the free Profit Makers e-newsletter developed by NCPA and Drug Store News at www.ncpanet.org/profitmakers. You will receive tips in your email box every two weeks. Looking to discover new products that you can't find through your wholesaler? Visit www.frontendmarketplace.com for popular front-end product ideas. You can also spot the next hot gift by purchasing a subscription to giftBEAT magazine (www.giftbeat.com). Good luck!

Front-End Overhaul

Finding Room for New Categories

A challenge for every merchandiser is finding room for a new category. The first step is to a look at the sizes of the categories you already have. A new One-Pager Tip from Gabe reveals suggested sizes for every category that stores can use to measure their own product departments and determine if upsizing or downsizing is necessary. Remember, all categories in your store must make you money, attract customers, or enhance your image. If the department only fills one or none of the requirements, then you must research the value and/or need for the category. Read the new tip to learn more.

Front-End Overhaul

April 2016


Gabe Q&A

I received the following question from an NCPA member that I am reproducing here for everyone. Please send me your questions at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org.

I have a very loyal clientele that consistently buys the same items. How do I pull people into the store? I run sales and advertise, but cannot force people to browse and expand their buying.

The first step is to check if your price-sensitive items (namely personal care items) are priced competitively. If prices are slightly high, then customers will quickly learn to shop for only the items they feel are priced competitively. Call your wholesaler and ask to verify the OTC zone pricing level for your store. A quick test you can do is to see if your Advil 50-count tablets have a retail over $6.99; if they do, it is time to take a serious look at your OTC pricing.

The next step would be to ask the pharmacist for his or her recommendations of three to four items from each major OTC category: pain relief, cough & cold, antacids/laxatives, vitamins, and skin care. Place a business card-sized sign that says, "Our Pharmacist Recommends" in front of each of the recommended items. Double face each of the items on the shelf and maintain no less than four of each item.

Consider replacing a few end-caps (particularly if you have trouble coming up with themes for them) with custom-made banners approximately 30 inches wide by 54 inches high. Use the banners to promote services or products you offer that customers may not be aware of, such as a certified fitter for compression hosiery or the vitamin D your pharmacist recommends. After you improve your pricing, you can also hang a poster telling customers to "Check our pricing, you'll be in for a good surprise."

Choose a personal care item, such as a popular shampoo, toothpaste, or vitamin/supplement, and feature the product on an end-cap as a manager's special. Price the item 25 cents below your cost. Run this special for no more than 2 weeks. Once a month, shock your customers with a special that can't be beat—eventually, they will start shopping the entire store. If you sell 100 of the items at 25 cents below cost, you have only invested $25 in a great marketing tactic.

Last but not least: when was the last time you updated the store interior, such as repainting, relocating a few categories, and adding signage? Maybe it's time for a remodel.

Front-End Overhaul

May is the Biggest Month of the Year

May is the new December. As far as revenue goes, May has more opportunity for out-front sales than any other month of the year. May also offers inspiration to craft your social media and website content, advertising ideas, and end-cap themes. The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe tells you how to capitalize on May's themes with greeting cards, advertising, and health-related products. Why are we posting this tip so early? Because the time to prepare for May's opportunities is NOW. Get your inventory ready!

Front-End Overhaul

Shine the Spotlight on Vitamin D

It is a common occurrence that when the sun shines longer during the day and the temperature rises, many customers start cutting back on or stop taking their vitamin D.

A recent study revealed that "While the sun helps the body make vitamin D…too much exposure might actually lower the levels of the essential vitamin. Tan skin may provide some protection against the sun's harmful UV rays, but this increase in pigment blocks vitamin D synthesis and limits the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D, according researchers in Brazil."

Have a vitamin D that you recommend on hand and be sure to stock plenty of it. Add a sign!

Front-End Overhaul

How to Ensure the Success of Your Planograms

Follow this checklist to maximize the effectiveness of your planograms:

Choose an appropriately sized selection for each category. Remember, larger does not always equal more sales.

Confirm competitive zone pricing. Increasing retails (and thus your profit margin) on a section that represents less than 5 percent of total sales could damage your store’s pricing image.

Not all "never out" items are equal. Identify the 20 best-selling items in each category for your true "never out" products—and make sure you always have enough in inventory.

Hang five business card-sized signs per category: "Our pharmacist recommends..."

Place discontinued items or items no longer offered in the planogram on sale at 50 percent off for two weeks, then return or donate any leftover product. If the item meets your wholesaler’s return policy, return one week after the planogram has been completed.

Front-End Overhaul

March 2016


What Can We Be Better At?

Every store says its best advantage over the competition is superb customer service. If this is true, then stores better make sure they have it! Call a staff meeting and use my new customer service checklist to see what you are doing right and what you can improve, or add you own topics to the list.

Front-End Overhaul

Turn Your Pharmacy into an Easter Basket HQ

It can be challenging to come up with gifts to fill an Easter basket. Take the guessing out of it by creating an Easter Basket Headquarters at your pharmacy. Aside from offering popular Easter candies (remember, stick to reliable favorites like pink or yellow Peeps, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Cadbury Crème Eggs, and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs), offer customers sugar-free and gluten-free candy options and non-candy items such as PlayDoh, Silly Putty, playing cards, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, markers, stickers, bubbles, nail polish, sunglasses, children's books, and plush Easter toys. Another idea: offer alternatives to baskets themselves. Beach pails and even open upside-down umbrellas work well and don't have to be discounted after the holiday. Important tip: the secret to selling Easter baskets is to never run out of grass. If you run out, customers will take their basket needs elsewhere. If you do not have 10 bags left over after Easter, then you didn't buy enough. Keep those shelves well-stocked!

Front-End Overhaul

How a Price Parity Policy Can Increase Cash Sales & Boost Customer Confidence

Retail price parity can be valuable in zone pricing. Price parity ensures a proper up-to-date profit margin is in place and assures customers they are paying the correct retail. For example, Advil 50-count caplets, Advil 50-count tablets, and Advil 50-count gel caps should all be priced with the same exact retail. If one price changes, then price changes need to be updated for the remaining two products. The same goes for items such as flavored Halls 30-count cough drops (cherry, honey, mentho-lyptus, etc.) or Delsym 3 oz. adult cough syrup in grape or orange flavors.

Customers expect items from the same manufacturer with identical active ingredients and the same strength but only a difference in shape or flavor to have price parity. The only way you can explain to a customer why Advil 50-count caplets are 10 cents more than Advil 50-count tablets is by pointing to a missed retail price change.

Items without price parity can be a red flag for non-rotated inventory, out-of-date or short-date expiration codes, and/or missing pricing updates. In addition, there may be a disruption in price parity from inventory shipped in floor displays, since many times floor display product is shipped with either no pricing labels or labels with the manufacturer's suggested retail.

"Buy one, get one" and bonus size promotional products may also cause price discrepancies. "Buy one Advil 50-count tablets and get the second one free" has to sell at the same price as the non-BOGO pack of Advil 50-count tablets. The discrepancy may be the result of different UPC codes on the BOGO packs that are not covered by or have been missed by the zone pricing program. In addition, bonus size promotions like "buy Advil 50-count and get 20 percent more free" needs to be priced the same as a 50-count regular box.

Take action today. Check the above-mentioned products for price parity. Examine all product shipped in counter and floor displays for proper pricing and review pricing on all "buy one, get one" and bonus size packaging for correct retails.

Front-End Overhaul

Think Inside the Box

Are you giving products maximum placement on shelves? You may know (or have heard me repeat this time and again) that the shelf closest to eye level is always the best shelf to promote items, and the base, or bottom, shelf is where items go to be forgotten. But often times, manufacturers will send a pre-pack floor display that doesn’t give all of the products an equal shot at sales success at the top. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for an easy trick to updating those vendor displays so you can sell, sell, sell.

Front-End Overhaul

Gabe Q&A: Bundling Sales

I received the following question that I am reproducing here for everyone. Please send me your questions at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org.

Should you group certain products together to encourage bundle buying? What are some examples?
There are three types of sales: planned sales, impulse sales, and companion sales. Companion sales are the quickest way to increase sales. Some companion sales can be as simple as placing facial tissue in the cough & cold department along with vitamin C, hand sanitizer, thermometers, and new toothbrushes so customers can throw those germs away. (Side note: Did you know that most cough & cold planograms do not include facial tissue in the set? How many steps away is facial tissue from your cough & cold department?)

Front-End Overhaul

February 2016


21 Questions to Ask to Be a Better Buyer

Be a better buyer! It helps to know the answers to these 21 questions before making a decision to introduce new products to your front-end mix. My latest One-Pager Tip tells you what you should ask the vendor.

Front-End Overhaul

Merchandising Well = Growing Sales

There are three ways to increase sales: attract additional customers; have customers come into the store more often; and sell more items to each customer every time he or she comes in. Selling more to each customer is a responsibility of the merchandiser. A merchandiser who can attract customers' attention and add perceived value to an item will increase sales and revenue. Remember... front-end sales are cash sales. Merchandise well.

Front-End Overhaul

How 99 Cents Can Equal New Customers

It's challenging to create revenue by selling $ .99 greeting cards, but $ .99 cards can be a great attraction for customers. If you are going to sell cards for under $1, make sure everyone in town knows it. Place eye-level signs around the store every 4 feet screaming "All Cards 99₵ Each" and near every register, too. Use your road marquee or digital sign to promote your $ .99 cards. Signs are especially important if the cards themselves do not have the $ .99 price stamped on the back. I have been in too many stores that sell cards for 99 cents and the average customer would never know it.

Try this marketing idea: Purchase a small ad in a local church bulletin. Only include the store name and "cards for 99₵" in the ad—nothing else. Keep it clean and simple. The job of the ad is to get people in your store for greeting cards, not for medications, shoes, or snacks. Now prepare how you will engage with and win these new faces over to become your new customers. Selling 100 cards at 99 cents and making only a $10 profit but bringing in plenty of new traffic is always better than a $500 ad that does nothing. Important: This tip only works for cards sold at 99 cents or less.

Front-End Overhaul

January 2016


Please Confirm Your Appointment

Your front end called, it would like you to confirm your appointment. Along with your doctor, hair stylist, mechanic, dentist, golf partner, optometrist, and favorite restaurant, your front end would like to see you and see you on time. Don't have a seat; instead, walk around, take your time—your front end has set aside an hour for you. My latest One-Pager Tip tells you what problems you should be listening and looking for as you walk around your front end. Consider it a weekly appointment—and be sure it’s one you keep.

Front-End Overhaul

Avoid the Need to Fill Space

A good way to control inventory is to avoid the need to fill space. Here’s what a profitable community pharmacy should look like: You can see the pharmacy from the front door. Near the pharmacy bench you will find pain, common cold, and heartburn relief, as well as supplements to improve well-being. You can see a compounding room in clear view. A “Home Safety and Comfort” center with DME products is prominently positioned close to the waiting area, and there is a comfortable fitting/consulting room located nearby. The variety of personal care products offered is merchandised to meet basic needs, possibly a bit more. You may even find a small selection of greeting cards accompanied by candles, bath and body gift items, and seasonal candy and snacks.

No store can afford to be designed by filling the square footage the building covers; some may be too small, many may be too big. Design a store layout of what you know your customers want, not by how much the building can hold. More choices do not always mean more sales.

Front-End Overhaul


How to Improve Your Sign

Pretty signs can be pretty deceiving. A sign needs to multitask. It has to attract attention. It also needs to be easy to read from a distance and be able to offer compelling information. The font you choose is critical, as are the add-ons and messages you include (see Gabe's previous tip, "Tips on Digital Signs Part 2: Message Ideas"). The latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe describes what type of font you should choose, what add-ons you should make, and how to improve your sign with your budget in mind.

Front-End Overhaul


Start the New Year by Looking Up

Let's start from the outside of your store. Take a minute and look up at your front entrance. Are you enjoying the view of a well-lit entrance where even the hardest-to-reach spots are dirt- and cobweb-free? Now, with pen and paper in hand, step inside and inspect the ceiling. Starting from the front left-hand corner, slowly inspect the entire ceiling and make a note of the number of soiled ceiling tiles and burnt out bulbs. Note who will replace the tiles and bulbs and when the chore should be completed. Next, turn off the background music for a minute and listen for a buzzing sound – that sound usually means you have a ballast that will burn out soon. Defective ballasts will make a bulb to quickly burn out. It is easy to forget to look up. Now is the time to remember and make it a regular habit.

(P.S. - when you turn the background music on, listen carefully to hear if you are hearing an ad for the pharmacy up the road.)

Front-End Overhaul


Shelf Tags Can Give You Superpowers

Shelf tags can make or break your sanity...and profit levels. Every item that can be found in the front of your store must have a shelf tag. The shelf tag serves two very important purposes. One is as a place marker so that an item can be found in the same location every time a customer looks for the product. Shelf tags give items a home. The other function of a shelf tag is to make it easier to reorder the product. For helpful tips in finding, ordering, and placing shelf tags, read my latest One-Pager Tip. Your staff and your sanity will thank you.

Front-End Overhaul

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