Drive traffic with unique front-end products
- An independent’s front end doesn’t need the full range of products a large chain offers.
- But, offering unique front-end products can bring in new customers.
- Sell consumable products, such as foods and soaps, that people will return to buy again and again.
Early in the fidget spinner craze, Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy in Missouri took a chance, ordered 300 spinners, and posted their availability on Facebook, where Parkland has more than 2,600 followers.
Facebook followers shared the post and tagged their friends. When Parkland’s three stores opened the next morning, people were lined up to buy the popular toys. By 10 a.m. Parkland had sold all 300 spinners. So, Parkland ordered 800 more, selling the items for a 50% profit and earning thousands of dollars in extra revenue.
“We actually captured new customers from selling fidget spinners,” said Debbie Hamby, business manager for Parkland’s three locations. “This got them out of their normal habit of where they shop. We had people driving in from different towns.”
An employee who knew how popular they were found an online supplier. “I had no idea that fidget spinners were so huge,” she said.
“It was a super-hot trend,” Hamby said, and by taking advantage of early interest in this fad, Parkland brought in new shoppers who liked what they saw and later returned with their prescriptions.
Featuring the “Pharmers Market”
At the beginning of the year, Parkland’s owners decided to be more strategic about what they offered in the front end of their three pharmacy locations in Missouri.
Reviewing data from their inventory system, they pared down products that weren’t selling, particularly health and beauty products that customers can buy elsewhere, such as shampoos and lotions.
Parkland’s front end still is well stocked with cough, cold and first aid basics, but now it also has a small “Pharmers Market” section in each store that sells products ranging from homemade soaps to salsa.
The market is immediately to the right when customers enter the store, on the way to the prescription drop-off. In two of the stores the display is just a slat wall with a sign and about 10 feet of hanging shelf space.
Hamby has found some products by visiting local festivals and works with a store that sells Amish-made foods. When Parkland orders jams, its provider makes a fresh batch.
All advertising for those products has been on Facebook and by word of mouth.
“We have a steady stream of customers,” Hamby said. “We sell a lot of local honey.” Parkland expected the honey to draw people in because they believe it has health benefits.
Recently one location began a product test with a display in its waiting area of Paparazzi jewelry, which sells for just $5 a piece, making it an affordable luxury that people will buy on impulse.
Rocking a free trend
Some promotions bring in new customers without costing or making much money. For example, before the total solar eclipse in August, the pharmacy sold safety glasses for just $1 as a service to the community. “We made no money on them,” Hamby said, “but sold more than 300 pairs.”
Parkland also jumped on the local interest in “kindness rocks,” with people painting rocks and hiding them for others to find. Several local communities created Facebook pages devoted to the rock hunting.
Parkland put its name on the back of some painted rocks and offered free items to the finders who bring them to the stores, ranging from a highlighter to its popular T-shirt, which has the store logo, its “T-Rx” dinosaur mascot, and the slogan, “Great Customer Service Is Not Extinct!”
“Be an observer and listen to what is going on in your community and trends on social media,” Hamby said. “We’re learning as we go,” she said. A skin care line has sold more slowly than expected but jars of pickled beets are flying off the shelf.
Make the front end of your pharmacy a destination for shoppers, and their prescriptions will follow.
Put people in product pics
When posting photos on social media of products in your pharmacy, include staff members in the pictures — as Parkland has done. The connection with people they know will draw more interest in your posts and foster a feeling of connection between shoppers and the staff.