2013 Front-End Overhaul Tips Archive

December 2013



Join the New Front-End Overhaul LinkedIn Group

Make a New Year's resolution to help your business by joining the new Front-End Overhaul group on LinkedIn! Are you featuring a new gift item in your store that is selling well? Wondering how your colleagues merchandise their holiday sections? Share your successful ideas or ask questions of your colleagues in our new Front-End Overhaul discussion group on LinkedIn. The group will provide NCPA members an avenue to communicate with each other about what works best and what doesn't in the front end of their stores. Post questions or share ideas and get the conversation going! Discussion group membership is free and only open to current NCPA members.

Front-End Overhaul

New Year's Resolutions for Your Pharmacy

Start the New Year off on the right foot with some simple resolutions to help make your pharmacy more successful. Whether it's deep cleaning your checkout counters, painting your customer waiting area, taking better notes about your seasonal merchandise sales, or setting a monthly employee meeting, my checklist will help you make 2014 the best year yet. Check back on Dec. 20 for the newest One-Pager Tip. And start your New Year's resolutions by following me on Twitter (@NCPAGabe) and joining the new Front-End Overhaul LinkedIn group, where you can share ideas and ask questions of your colleagues (open to NCPA members only).

Front-End Overhaul

What Is Your Store's Return Policy?

Do your employees know and understand what your store's return policy is? Take time now to prepare for after Christmas returns. Post your return policies in clear view and review your policy with all employees, especially new ones. Make sure everyone on your staff has a clear understanding of how to handle returned products. You should also make new signs for each register stating your store's return policies. (Check out this One-Pager Tip on preparing and enforcing a return policy.)

Front-End Overhaul

Make New Year's Bigger Than Christmas

Last year, it was reported that nearly 45 percent of Americans made a New Year's resolution. That is a huge market to tap into, and for a health provider, it is a hand-in-glove fit. Now is the time to get ready to help your customers make and stick with their New Year's resolutions. Plant the seed today and the sales will grow for months. My latest One-Pager Tip examines the top healthy resolutions that people will make for 2014—weight loss, smoking cessation, more exercise, and less stress—and how to merchandise and stock your pharmacy for each resolution. With smart merchandising, you can develop year-long sales and loyal customers. Now that's a resolution worth sticking to!

Front-End Overhaul

Every Store Can Create Christmas Sales...Without Worrying About the Dreaded "Day-After-Holiday" Discount Sale

What are the two requirements for an item to be classified as a stocking stuffer? One, the item has to fit in a stocking. Two, the item has to have a sign that reads, "Great Stocking Stuffer!" Every store, big and small, literally has hundreds of stocking stuffers available. Stocking stuffers come in a variety of forms: they can be a gift item, such as a coffee mug; an everyday, practical item, like a toothbrush; an item that serves as a first step to healthier living, like Vitamin D3; or something as simple as a full-size Snickers bar. Create 50 business-sized cards that read, "Great Stocking Stuffer!" and place them creatively around your store. (Need an example? Download signs to print out.) Go one step further and create an end-cap labeled "Stocking Stuffer Headquarters." Next year, you will want to place 100 signs around your store. Here is my favorite part: on December 26th, take down the signs—no discount needed!

Please see the Suggested Stocking Stuffer List on the right-hand side of this page for ideas you can use in your store, and don't forget to check out my Overhaul of Fame "Seasonal" gallery for additional end-cap ideas. Write to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and let me know how creative you got with your stocking stuffers.

Front-End Overhaul


November 2013



Treat Your Employees Well

Taking good help for granted is a costly bad habit. Just think: every time you have to recruit, hire, and train a new employee to replace one who left is time, money, and attention taken away from your business. Treat your employees well and you’ll see the wonders they can do for your pharmacy business.

Front-End Overhaul

Opportunities for American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month—take advantage of opportunities to merchandise diabetic shoes, socks, and sugar-free items to your diabetic customers. Place a diabetic shoe with a sign on your pharmacy counter and/or front counter to generate interest and sales. Pair diabetic socks with diabetic shoe displays or foot care products, and consider giving a free pair of diabetic socks to 20 of your diabetic customers. Remember, most people don’t know they make shoes for diabetics, presenting you with a great opportunity to showcase your pharmacy’s offerings for this population. Revisit the “Diabetic Footwear Solutions” One-Pager Tip for more ideas on merchandising your diabetic shoe section.

In addition, identify every sugar-free item you have in your store—even toothpaste!—and market the number of sugar-free items you have to your customers (example = We Offer More Than 1,000 Sugar-Free Items!). Make your sugar-free candy and food items easy to find.

Front-End Overhaul

Are You Ready?

I’m sure you are ready to answer all of these questions that customers are bound to ask: What do you recommend for a bad cough? A runny nose? A stuffed up nose? Congestion? A toddler’s nighttime cough? But are you ready to fill the customer’s needs? The cough and cold season is going to be around for several months. Do your customers and yourself a favor and order no less than a dozen of each of the items that you will be recommending. Do not let the inventory of each these products fall below six items. Remember, running out of a popular item is the same as asking your customers to go elsewhere.

Front-End Overhaul


October 2013



Halloween Notes for 2013

It is apparent that chains are using smoke and mirrors to promote this season’s Halloween candy sales. Sale ads are featuring multiple bag discounts in twos, threes, and fives. No chain pharmacy is offering a discount on a single bag purchase. Chain pharmacy savings are only available with reward cards. Some stores are featuring savings only with a combination of multiple bag purchases, rewards cards, and in-store coupons. Others are offing savings with a combination of multiple bag purchases, rewards cards, and reward bucks for future purchases. It is apparent that your market for next year is single bag purchases with no strings attached. Check back on Oct. 24 for my latest one-pager featuring an example of the kind of note taking you should be making every season. Remember, good notes create good buying decisions.

Front-End Overhaul

Book Recommendations to Become a Better Pharmacy Owner

Sometimes you need to do a little extra homework to better understand how customers think and shop. In my 30 years of merchandising for pharmacy front ends, I've come across several books that are worth keeping on your bedside table. Click here for my book recommendations to help you become an expert merchandiser and marketer. Happy reading!

Front-End Overhaul

Smart Schooling for Your Business

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 in Orlando on Friday, Oct. 11. 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.

Registration ends this Friday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. EST, so please don't wait to sign up. I want to see you in Orlando and together we can help you build a better business.

Front-End Overhaul


September 2013



Learn From Your Colleagues

If you haven't taken a look at my Overhaul of Fame galleries (links are located in the left column), please take a moment to do so. You'll pick up some great ideas from your NCPA colleagues that could make a difference in your pharmacy. Whether its effective signage, smart end caps, well-stocked DME sections, or beautiful seasonal item sections, you'll learn something new from a store that has successfully tried it. Galleries are updated on a regular basis, so please check back often. And don't forget to send me your winning ideas and photos at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it —you might just end up in my Overhaul of Fame!

Front-End Overhaul



How Not to Merchandise

When I used to manage a chain of independent pharmacies, I purchased 1,632 bags of jelly beans for an Easter promotion one year. Each store created a compelling sign, a colorful display, and the jelly beans were priced at two bags for $1. Each store was told to offer free samples of the jelly beans at every register. How could we fail? It was easy; I had forgotten to taste the jelly beans. They were awful; chewing the bag would have been a better choice. Thank goodness I discovered a store that was doing well with them. I asked what they were doing special, and they said, "we are making sure nobody puts them in their mouth." We sold about a third of the bags and gave a number of people refunds. I still have some in my basement; they are next to my case of Smurfs. I'll send you some: they are 12 years old, but trust me, they are just as good as the day they were made. (Even the mice brought them back.)

Tip (taken from September America's Pharmacist™):



Merchandising Tips for the 2013-14 Flu Season

Millions of Americans will catch the flu this year and millions more will do their best to steer clear of getting it. Do your customers a great service by offering different ways to avoid the flu and find relief. A minimum of two end-caps should be devoted to these products: one for flu prevention and another for symptom relief. A must have is a sign that you can display to promote customer awareness and action. Don't forget to stock your checkout counters with hand sanitzers for impulse buys. For messaging and product ideas, read my latest One-Pager tip, and share your flu season signs and success stories with me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Front-End Overhaul



Looking for a New Niche? Help Young Readers

Fairfax Pharmacy in Vermont has created a new, unique niche in their store with educational books for preschoolers and young readers. Consider offering something similar in your pharmacy with "School Zone," "A to Z," "Golden Books," and other popular series. Check out Gabe's Gallery for other merchandising ideas.

Front-End Overhaul


August 2013



Get Ready for Flu Shots

It's hard to think about preparing your pharmacy for flu shots during the last warm days of summer, but August—also known as National Immunization Awareness Month—is a good reminder to start that flu shot "to do" list. An easy step you can take is to order a "Flu Shots Available Here" banner or sign now. Check out Gabe's Gallery for the latest example of an effective banner. And don't forget to send me your success stories and photos at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Front-End Overhaul



It's Back to School Time

It's back to school time—is your pharmacy prepared? I'm not just talking about having school supplies on hand. Parents may come into your pharmacy with questions about a good children's vitamin to take, or what you recommend for cough and cold medicines and head lice treatments. Be sure to have answers ready for these questions and be able to recommend them products from your store. In addition, check with local gym teachers and coaches to see what brand of knee, wrist, and ankle braces they would like to see offered in your store. Many prefer "made in the USA" brands. Finally, ask teachers for a list of what local first graders are expected to bring on their first day of school and prepare a kit for sale in your pharmacy.

Front-End Overhaul



Moving a Fixture Is Not All That Hard

At times, you may need to move a fixture in your pharmacy to create a better space for your customers. This can seem like a daunting task, but with a few friends and a safe and careful move, it can be done fairly easily, whether you have carpeting or tile floors. The key is to remove end-caps and all product from the top two shelves of the fixture, and then strategically place your volunteers around the fixture to move it properly. For a simple step-by-step list of how to move a fixture, check out the latest One-Pager Tip. And please be careful!

Front-End Overhaul



A Sneaky Dollar Store Secret

Here's a secret a dollar store won't tell you. Noncompetitive-priced items are purposely packaged in odd sizes to confuse the customer, thus discouraging price comparison. For example: compare your private label low-dose aspirin retail with theirs and discover who is cheaper by the tablet. Odd sizes can be a red flag for high retails.

Front-End Overhaul


July 2013



Can a Time Change Spur Growth in Your Store?

Being open from 9 to 5 is a great shift; no one has to rush in the morning and everyone gets to eat dinner at a decent time. However, a business that is open 9 to 5 or even 9 to 6 might be hindering its own growth. While extending hours can be costly, you owe it to yourself to investigate if being open additional hours is a wise and profitable investment for your pharmacy. For the simple steps you should take to explore if new store hours make sense for you, check back on Friday for the latest One-Pager Tip.

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Six Vitamin Selling Secrets

Merchandising vitamins can be overwhelming and confusing. In my 24 years of merchandising management, I have found that the best way to merchandise vitamins is to make them easy to find and your customers will be more apt to buy them. For the six simple steps you can take to better merchandise your vitamins and increase sales, read the latest One-Pager Tip. Don't forget to share your success stories with me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Front-End Overhaul


June 2013



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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

You suggest decreasing our greeting card sections, any suggestions on how to go about doing this or what to eliminate?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to decrease that section. First, set the size of your card department with the correct card assortment. Next, take the cards that you have leftover and try to return them to the distributor. Those cards that are nonreturnable should be placed in a temporary card rack priced as "$1.50 each" or "Two for $1.99." After one month, drop the price to "99 cents each," then finally "Two for $1.00." One month after the cards have been priced as two for a dollar you will need to dispose of or donate the leftover cards. Keep in mind that the card selection you keep will not show growth until the discounted cards are off the premises.

Front-End Overhaul



What To Do With Short-Dated Product

An NCPA member asked me what their pharmacy should do with short-dated OTC items, such as Aleve expiring in three months. My suggestion is to first ask your wholesaler if you can send the item back. If that doesn't work, leave the item on the shelf with a small sign that reads, "Short-dated item means big savings! Save 50%." If you still have product with close to a month left before the expiration date, donate the item to a food pantry. Going below 50 percent on the price and making a donation may equate to the same kind of write off for your pharmacy's bottom line.

Next, try to figure out why the item isn't selling. Are you competitive with your neighbors? Do you have too many line extensions of the product? For a more complete answer, be sure to read the latest One-Pager Tip with my ideas for preventing problems with short-dated OTC items in the future.

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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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

How do we know when to discontinue an item from a planogram? Meaning, if it does not sell a certain amount in a year?
There is no magic number, unless you count ZERO sold in two years or more as being magic. The best way to downsize a department is to obtain a planogram that is smaller than the one you are using now, or better yet, a planogram that fits the category size that meets your customer's needs, not a planogram that fits the physical fixture size.

When installing a new planogram, first remove all of the product off the shelves in the category that you are planning to update. Put the shelf labels in place from the new planogram. Then, only matching the shelf labels, fill the shelves with the inventory you have on hand. At this point, you will have items leftover that are not called for in the new plan. Do not return or discount these items yet! Check the dates on these items: if you have sold more than two of the item in the past 12 months, then you should work them back into your plan. The remaining items should be sent back to the wholesaler, and short-dated product should be discounted in a clearance section or in its original department signed with a message reading, "Save here."

Most likely, you will find a few new items that you are not presently stocking. Check to see if these items are truly new items or simply a line extension. If they are new, then you should bring them into your plan; if the item is a line extension, research the item to see if it's something you really need to add to your inventory. For more information concerning line extensions, check out "#1 Doesn't Always Mean You're a Winner" under One-Pager Tips on the Front-End Overhaul site. Good luck!

Front-End Overhaul



Understanding Zone and Level Retail Pricing Options

Zone or level pricing options are an essential part in keeping store retails competitive. The difference between the two is that level, or sometimes called "percentage pricing," is a system that applies profit margins to complete categories. Zone pricing considers not only the category, but also the subcategory, brand name, and size.

The science of zone pricing recognizes price-sensitive items while targeting blind or less-shopped items and applies the appropriate higher margins. Every independent needs to be on zone pricing and should never consider a level or percentage pricing program. Zone pricing will keep you competitive and help you stay profitable. As long as the chain stores use zone pricing, you simply have no option but to do so as well.

Check back on Thursday for the full one-pager with helpful advice to improve your store's pricing image.

Front-End Overhaul



More Advice on Digital Signs

I received an email from NCPA member Teri Salinas of Marshland Pharmacies, Inc. in Wisconsin about her experiences with digital sign messages. Teri has graciously allowed me to reprint her tips here:

I wanted to share some ideas [on digital sign messages] I've used in case someone else might find them helpful:

  • Pharmacy hours
  • "Go Natural with Burt's Bees"
  • "Feet Hurt? Try Dr. Comfort Shoes"
  • "Sneezing? Headache? Allergy Supplies Here"
  • "Abdallah Chocolates - Treat Yourself"
  • "Save A Trip - Print Pics Here" (We are a small town and many people print pictures when they are in a larger town 10 miles away. We are trying to captivate more photo business.)
  • "Save A Trip - Roadtrip Snacks Here"
Teri also writes:
"I have managed signs for two of our stores, but I've learned a lot from watching signs when I drive. Do they look clean/neat/functional? What colors do I notice? Do they scroll too fast, too slow? It helps to take a step back and realize what we are drawn to ourselves."

Thank you for the terrific suggestions, Teri. Members, please continue to share your success stories with me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Front-End Overhaul


May 2013



The Cost of Discounting

Do you know what your true profit margin is for various items in your pharmacy? Make sure you know your numbers when discounting goods at your store. Check out the latest one-pager tip with examples on using a margin formula vs. using a markup formula. How does your pharmacy measure up?

Front-End Overhaul



Double Check Your Sun Care Section Now

Memorial Day weekend (starting this Saturday, May 25) marks the unofficial start of summer, and many people will be hitting the beach or spending time outdoors. Take a moment to double check your sun care and tanning products section to ensure your products are well-stocked and straightened. Sunscreen products labeled "anti-aging" are selling well – does your pharmacy have any? "Yes To" products are also doing well and many carry the seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. Be sure to review the "Tips for Sun Care and Tanning Products 2013" One-Pager to ensure your sun care section sells successfully this season.

Front-End Overhaul



Winning Messages for Your Digital Sign

As I mentioned in Tips for Digital Signs Part 1, digital signs are a wise investment, particularly if your store is located on a busy road and/or is situated at a corner with a traffic light. But to get the most out of your sign, you need to make sure your messages are easy to read in all types of weather and that they are brief and effective. Do not bother putting your pharmacy's website address on the sign; if people are interested, they will simply Google your store's name.

Some ideas for effective messages include: time and temperature, congratulations to local schools/sports teams, countdowns to major holidays, "Diapers on sale!," "386 Sugar-Free Items," "Experts at listening to you," and "Reading glasses priced to lose." Remember to keep your messages to no more than nine words.

Check back on Friday for many more ideas on effective messages for digital signs in the newest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul



Is Your Shoe Display Taking a Step in the Right Direction?

Offering specialty shoes, such as orthopedic sandals and/or shoes for diabetics, is one thing. Selling them is another. Great signage speaking to the benefits and features of the shoes is essential. The sign should make no mention of retails and remember to locate the sign centered at eye level. Go one step further and keep a floor mirror and chair nearby. Pair diabetic socks and slippers with your diabetic shoe displays and with your foot care section. You can't go wrong with cross-merchandising diabetic shoes in your store – there are a number of people who are not aware of the safety and comfort that shoes for diabetics can offer; more exposure equals more interest. Consider promotions to generate interest in the shoes, such as giving a free pair of diabetic socks to 20 of your diabetic patients – this could be the best money you have ever spent in marketing shoes.

Front-End Overhaul



Why You Should Go Digital

If you have an old, outdated marquee sign outside of your pharmacy, it's time to think about investing in digital. If your store is located on a busy road and has the luxury of being situated at a corner or intersection with a traffic light, a digital sign is a must. Roadside digital signs play to all audiences. The amount of traffic that goes by your store simply equates to a better return on your sign investment.

When setting up a digital sign, offer time and temperature on your board. This trains people to look at your sign on a regular basis. Keep your messages brief (no more than nine words), simple (no special effects), and legible (stay away from italics and small fonts), and be sure to choose your content wisely.

For more ideas on how to use a digital sign effectively are available in the newest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul


April 2013



A Note About Shopping Baskets

Chances are your pharmacy makes shopping baskets available to customers, but are you using them strategically? Customers buy 5-10 times more if they have a shopping basket in their hands. They will stop shopping when their hands are full. Make sure you have clean shopping baskets available throughout your store, not just at your entrance. And don't place shopping baskets near your checkout. That is the last stop customers make before leaving your store. Baskets should be near the center and the back of the store.

Front-End Overhaul



Spring Clean Your Store's Interior

Now that you've cleaned and refreshed the outside of your store, it's time to tackle the inside. Start by examining your employee policies (such as dress code and phone usage – there should be no cell phones on the sales floor or in the pharmacy, period). Conduct a one-on-one employee review; keep this as positive as possible. Next, clean the flooring and replace any worn area rugs or runners. Replace burnt out lights, clean light fixtures, and replace stained ceiling tiles. De-clutter your checkout, pickup and drop off counters, both on top and underneath. Take time to refresh the interior of your store: freshen up your waiting area with new paint and clean chairs, paint something inside, and consider adding graphics to your walls. And don't forget to clean and double the number of shopping baskets available for customers.

Check back here on Thursday for a complete spring cleaning checklist. Got questions about this or any other merchandising issue? Join me for a free NCPA Members Forum on Thursday, April 18 at 2:00 p.m. EST where I will answer your questions live. Advanced registration required. For more information, please click here.

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Price Sticker Placement

If you have not gone "sticker-less" (scanning at the register), then pay particular attention to the placement of the price tag. Price tags do not belong on the front of the item, nor should they be placed over important information. Each year, millions of dollars in scientific research have gone into designing the perfect eye-catching and informative packaging. All of this effort is solely focused on getting the product into the consumer's hand and initiating forward progress in making that final sale. Studies in customer behavior have consistently reported that once a product is in the customers' hands, the chance of making a sale is greatly improved. Price stickers on the front can have the opposite effect by redirecting the consumer's focus directly to the price tag and away from the quality and benefits of the brand. This is an easy fix!

One more thing: when using a pricing gun, avoid labels colored red or bright yellow. These colors have been used by big box chain stores to signify closeout and/or discontinued items. Stick to white or pastel colored labels instead.

Front-End Overhaul



Spring Clean Your Store's Exterior

The warm weather has arrived and that means spring cleaning season. It's not as overwhelming as you may think. Clean and refresh your store's exterior to bring in customers. Start at the top and work your way down to the pavement. Check your lights, clean awnings and overhangs, and sweep away cobwebs. How is your store signage? Replace any burnt out light bulbs and be sure your timers are adjusted for daylight savings. Refresh your store entrance by keeping trash cans looking new and clean, adding color with flower boxes or flower pots, and painting something outside, such as trim, poles, columns, or the entire exterior front. Restripe the lines in the parking lot, if necessary.

For a complete spring cleaning checklist, view the latest One-Pager Tip online. Be sure to follow Gabe Trahan, NCPA's senior director of store operations and marketing, on the Front-End Overhaul member's only site and on Twitter @NCPAGabe for daily tips.

Front-End Overhaul



Spring Clean Your Store's Exterior

As you get ready to spring clean your home, don't forget about your pharmacy! Start with cleaning and refreshing your store's exterior to bring in customers. The best place to begin is at the top – check lights, clean awnings and overhangs, and sweep away cobwebs. Check your store signage – are any lights burnt out? Are your timers adjusted for daylight savings? Refresh your store entrance by ensuring trash cans look new and clean, adding color with flower boxes or flower pots, and painting something outside, whether it's trim, poles, columns, or the entire exterior front. Be sure to set a cleaning schedule with assigned duties for your store's exterior. More spring cleaning tips are available in the newest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul


March 2013



New Logo Design to Fit Your Budget

It's easy to overspend on a design for your store logo. For a startup, this is one expense that needs to be kept under control. The good news is a web-based company exists that offers logo designs for affordable prices. The concept is pretty cool as well.

Recently I referred an NCPA member to 99 Designs. The way the site works is you set up the parameters you want in your design and you run a contest for artists around the world to design your logo. You set the budget amount (a.k.a. the prize money) and review the entries. You get to choose who wins the contest and which logo you will use for your business. People who have used this service have found it easy, budget-friendly, and fun.

Front-End Overhaul



The Countdown is on to Easter

Five important merchandising tips for Easter sales:

  1. Lindt Lindor Truffle singles are a great candy to promote for Easter. The wrappers are bright colorful foil, they are good quality chocolate, and because they are generally sold by singles customers on every budget can afford them. They sell the best at the checkout counter displayed in a clear glass bowl. Here is the best part - they do not have to be discounted after Easter.
  2. Cadbury Crème Eggs still remain number one. Nothing comes close. Make sure to have some available at every register. Warning: Cadbury Crème Eggs are a price sensitive item, keep your retails competitive.
  3. Each year Just Born introduces new marshmallow Peeps. Peeps dipped in chocolate are back this year and now have to compete with new Giant Bunny Peep and Rainbow Pops Peeps. If you have limited space, stick to the favorite colors of yellow and pink colored Peeps.
  4. There should be NO VALENTINE candy to be seen. Seriously, if you have some, eat it, but do not have it competing with new Easter candy.
  5. The secret to selling candy and Easter baskets is… never run out of grass! Customers looking to build their own Easter basket start with grass (shredded green shiny plastic). Don't run out of it, if you do, then people will take their entire Easter purchase to the store that has all of their needs. If you do not have 10 bags left over after Easter, then you didn't buy enough.

More Easter tips are available in the latest One-Pager Tip. Click here to read about new items for Easter baskets, this year's best candy selection, greeting card tips, and more.

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A Few Sweet Tips for Easter

This year Easter Sunday is March 31. Retailers consider this an early Easter that comes with a short selling season. Easter is no exception to the holiday selling season which means the bulk of retail sales will take place the last 7 to 10 days before the holiday. Depending on whose statistics you chose to believe, it has been reported that in one form or another up to 78% of consumers celebrate Easter. In most cases chocolate is involved! Easter is second in the top selling candy holidays.

To ensure your best sales of holiday candy, stick to the reliable all-time favorites. Cadbury single eggs, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Cadbury Clucking Bunny, Hershey's Candy Coated Eggs, Hershey's Pastel Kisses, Milky Way Creme Bunnies, Milky Way Creme Eggs, Peeps, Palmer chocolate bunnies, Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and Jelly Beans. Keep good inventory notes! Items sold at a discount cannot be counted as a positive sale and running out of candy two days before a holiday does not make a successful selling season. As always, remember that customers stop shopping when their hands are full so have plenty of shopping baskets available around your store.

Front-End Overhaul



Buying, Selling & Merchandising Tips for Sun Care

The first stores to promote a complete sun care line will enjoy the most profit and revenue the category has to offer. Advanced sun care products are on the rise in 2013. Look for items that go beyond sun protection to caring for various skin types. Rehydrating, organic and gluten-free sun care products will be promoted throughout the season with social media. Products containing zinc are also expected to do well. When purchasing your sun care line, ask your supplier for a list of items that come with return privileges. Don't forget to place your most profitable brand at eyelevel. Start with the lower SPF lotions and work to the right with the higher numbers. Tips for Sun Care and Tanning Products is a great new One-Pager Tip now available. Click here to read about buying, marketing, and merchandising for sun care. You will learn easy ways to increase your profits in this valuable category now through the end of summer.

Front-End Overhaul


February 2013



Merchandising at the Checkout Counter

There are a few standard rules of thumb for merchandising at the checkout counter. First, never use your register area to promote sale items. Sale items are intended to draw customers into your store. Turning a discounted item into an impulse sale may sound like a good idea, but it is defeating the purpose of having a sale and cannibalizes space from product that should be making you full margin. Next, all items placed on or near the checkout need to be dated. You can do this with a simple piece of masking tape and a pen. Very few items should stay in your checkout space for more than two to three weeks. Lastly, some proven sellers can stay at the checkout as long as success continues. However, they must be repositioned around the area to allow a new look to the counter. Looking new is essential! Simply moving a display from one end of the counter to another can bring you surprisingly good results and allows another item to shine in limelight.

Front-End Overhaul



One Last Note about Valentine's Day

It is very important that you sit down with your team as soon as possible and create notes about this year's Valentine season. Notes now will help you immensely next year. Trust me on this and give it a try. For assistance, check out the latest One-Pager Tip: Valentine Notes. The tip sheet has a series of questions for you to think about regarding merchandising, marketing, greeting cards, fragrances and gifts, and staff. A few minutes now can help you plan for 2014 - recreate the success you had this year and avoid the pitfalls.

Front-End Overhaul



What's In a Name?

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a new owner of a community pharmacy. The new owner had a big decision to make about keeping the current name of the pharmacy or changing it to something new. We discussed it and I explained that there are three types of customers. Group one is composed of customers who know your store and choose to patronize it. Group two is made up of people who are not aware of your store. Group three comprises those who know your store and for whatever reason choose not to patronize it.

Groups two and three are required for accelerated growth. In order to attract these groups, a name change may be needed as part of your marketing strategy. When you acquire someone else's store, it is assumed that you will operate the store with the same or improved services that the previous owner had to offer, giving no one a reason to leave. A name change allows you to reintroduce your store to groups two and three. If you think about it, customers don't leave a store they love because of a name change, but it can be a great way to introduce yourself to new customers.

Front-End Overhaul



Tips for Creating Print Ads and Compelling Commercials

The job of an advertisement is to persuade potential customers to choose your store. Ads need to convince people that it will be a better experience in your store than any other store. Your challenge is to create an ad that details how you will meet the needs of your customer. The latest One-Pager Tip, Tips for Print Ads and Compelling Commercials, contains 10 helpful suggestions to assist you with formatting a print ad and 10 hints for creating a compelling commercial. You can test your ad before it is final by replacing the name of your with the name of your competition. If the ad or commercial still makes sense, throw it away and start over.

Front-End Overhaul


January 2013



More Reasons Why Ones Are Bad for Business

New data reports that 42% of consumers who discover the OTC they are looking for is out of stock will go to another retailer. Only 5% will return later. Ones on the shelf are zeros waiting to happen. It bears repeating that there are some real disadvantages to stocking only one unit of an item on your shelves. A great One-Pager Tip on this topic is available. Click here to read about the mixed messages singles on the shelves can send and how you can address this to grow your front-end sales and enhance your store image.

Front-End Overhaul



Merchandising Tips for Valentine's Day that You Will Love

Merchandising for Valentine's Day can be a lot of fun. Take end-caps for instance. You'll want to begin planning for them now. Possible end-cap themes include: chocolate, fragrances, photo frames, candles, and premium skin care, just to name a few. Every end-cap must have a sign, and try adding a pink or red backdrop to the fixture. If you dedicate a section or a complete aisle to the holiday, make sure you have an end-cap leading into this area. Don't spend a lot of time wrapping your shelves. Paper doesn't sell product. Great presentation, full shelves, themes, signage and pricing make your sale.

February is also American Heart Month. Create an end-cap of heart-healthy products and place a red heart on the shelf next to any heart-healthy item in your store (for example: CoQ10, aspirin, etc.). Create signs that say, "Look for the red heart and give the gift of health!"

Many more tips are available in the new One-Pager Tip: Valentine's Day Tips - Part 2. Click here for helpful suggestions for advertising and merchandising as well as window displays. If you missed Part 1, click here for hot gift items in 2013 and a few must-read stats about the customers who shop your store for the upcoming holiday.

Front-End Overhaul



Take a Shot at Marketing to New Customers

Stores love to tell me how many flu shots they have given. Little do they know that offering flu shots represents one of the most powerful marketing tools they have. If a store gives 200 flu shots, there is a good chance that not all 200 customers purchase their prescriptions at that store. Every time a flu shot is given, the following conversation must take place: "Thank you for coming to us for your flu shot. Helping people stay healthy is one of our favorite things we like to do! If you take any medications at all, and if you have any questions, please ask us. We are happy to help you."

If this is done right, you will soon be transferring prescriptions to your location. Two hundred people coming into your store is a bonanza for marketing your prescription services. Don't let anyone walk out of your store without knowing that you can fulfill all of their health needs. Tip: Never take down your sign stating "We Offer Flu Shots."

One more thing - try sitting in the patient's chair, then take a good slow look around you. What do you see? Hopefully what you see is a clutter-free, warm and inviting setting with a prominent sign inviting people to transfer their prescriptions to your location, allowing you to become their partner in their good health. Make sure your sign has a call to action, something like: "Let us help you transfer your prescriptions today."

Front-End Overhaul



Transitioning to Valentine's Day

It's a new year – out with the old merchandise (Christmas) and in with the new (Valentine's Day). Do you know what gift items will be hot this year for Valentine's Day? If you need a few hints, read the newest One-Pager Tip: Valentine's Day Tips 2013 Part 1. Gifts to think about include premium chocolates, heart-shaped jewelry, and other affordable luxuries. Also included in the one-pager are tips for your candy aisle, and a few must-read stats about the customers who shop your store for the upcoming holiday. You may be interested to know that 17.2% of consumers purchase Valentine's gifts for their pets! Click here to access the tip and begin your preparations for February 14.

Front-End Overhaul



Do Yourself a Favor

Now that the holidays are over, take 10 minutes to sit down and make a few notes for yourself about the 2012 holiday season. A few minutes now can help you plan for the 2013 holidays so you can recreate the success you had this year and avoid things that wasted your time. Make notes about what sold well, and what didn't. Did you have any end-caps that were particularly successful? If so, why or why not? When did you see an increase in holiday purchases? A month before the holiday or was it six weeks before? Do you need to put out items sooner? Did the weather affect your business? If it did, understand that your buying for next year should be adjusted, and the carry over you have may not be from lack of appeal but from difficulty for shoppers to get out on the roads. Include photos with your notes if you can. Most importantly, file your notes in a place where you will find them– maybe make a note on your calendar for a date in October that reminds you to begin thinking about Christmas and where to find your notes from 2012. I've seen pharmacists that do this favor for themselves, and they find it helpful each and every year.

Front-End Overhaul