Ring up more sales at the register

pharmacy business management

Increase the value of impulse purchases

In brief:

  • The area near the cash register is a prime location for products customers will buy on impulse.
  • Selling a high volume of low-cost items, such as candy, can generate less revenue than fewer sales of more expensive items.
  • Frequently refresh your displays near the register.

Your cash resister isn’t just the place where you take payments: it’s the No. 1 spot for impulse sales. By placing the right products there, you’ll be ringing up much more revenue.

To know what belongs in that valuable space, you need to track how much you’re selling and gaining from each sale. Don’t just assume that because you notice an item sells occasionally, you have the right products in that space.

A store can earn more selling one set of earrings for $15 than it will selling three boxes of candy, said Gabe Trahan, senior director of store operations and marketing for the National Community Pharmacists Association. Most of a pharmacy’s customers are women, he noted, and “sometimes we like to reward ourselves or a friend.”

Tip: Consider adding items that are “affordable luxury” to the front end of your store.

Clean and simple

The biggest mistake Trahan sees in his visits to pharmacies is clutter near the cash register. “We think the more we put on it, the more we can sell,” he said.

Instead of using that space as a catchall, think strategically. Offer easy choices. For example, if you place insect repellant there during the summer, you don’t need every product you offer in that space; just the top-selling brand and an all-natural alternative.

Trahan also encourages pharmacies to change displays at the register frequently. “We get busy and we forget how long it has been there,” he said.

Tip: Write the date you put out a display on a piece of masking tape on the bottom. When you check you’ll know exactly how long it has been there.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the products at the register. Trahan once placed a pyramid pile of heat packs on a counter when he was revising shelf space. Later, when he realized he forgot to move them off the counter, he called the pharmacy owner and found out the heat packs turned out to be a hot item for impulse sales.

Tip: If you’re looking for products to sell in your front end, talk with your wholesaler and check out NCPA’s Front-End Marketplace, which offers merchandising tips from Trahan.

What we buy on impulse

Americans are impulsive, at least when it comes to purchases.

  • 84% of adults surveyed for CreditCards.com said they have made an impulse purchase, and more than 75% said they have done it in the past three months.1
  • People aren’t buying just candy and trinkets. More than 50% said they have spent $100 or more on an impulse buy.
  • Age matters:
    • Younger shoppers, ages 18–29, are more likely to pick up something for themselves.
    • Those who are 30–49 tend to impulse buy for a child.
    • Those older than 65 likely will buy something on impulse for a spouse or significant other.

Use those tendencies to help determine what to display near your cash register and pharmacy counter.


1 “Survey: 5 in 6 Americans Admit to Impulse Buys,” Sienna Kossman, CreditCards.com, Jan. 24, 2016. LINK