Local community pharmacies used to carry everything. They were the one stop shop for all types of necessities. That’s because niche stores simply didn’t exist in the way they do today. But somewhere along the line the business of one stop shop was slowly absorbed by a multitude of specialty chain stores. From home goods to pet supplies, pharmacies didn’t need to carry as much variety anymore because there simply wasn’t a way for a single aisle in the pharmacy to compete with an entire store devoted to a single product niche.
Now of course there are plenty pharmacies who still serve their communities in those broad capacities. But there are also many pharmacies who are having to re-evaluate the amounts and types of front end products they carry due to competition. And pharmacies aren’t the only businesses that sometimes have to take a hard look at what actually makes them profitable. This article talks about a video streaming startup that had to completely re-evaluate their focus. Even though this company operates in a completely different vertical, there are still some parallels we can draw and lessons to learn.
- “Narrow your niche” – Very few retailers who try to do it all, do it all well. And probably even fewer are successful at it. Even if your pharmacy does sell a wide range of different necessities, it’s important to understand what draws customers into your store and what they are actually purchasing. Don’t just look at a decent overall bottom line and say that it’s good enough. Monitor the performance of every department in your store, whether that’s a dozen different departments or just a couple. You need to understand what’s selling, what’s not, and make appropriate adjustments before it does make a big impact on the profitability and growth of your pharmacy. Use your Pharmacy POS system to continually track sales in your store and make changes as necessary.
- “Keep innovating” – I don’t think anyone would ever say that running an independent business, let alone an independent pharmacy, is easy. But there are some advantages to being a small business. You have more agility than your big box competition. With a little planning, you can add a new service faster than the big boxes can even schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility of discussing adding that service. The key is finding the right technology to help you add services like curbside pickup, home delivery, or private one on one patient counseling. To quote the article “Rather than just accepting the current way of doing things, we need to understand the problems facing business. Once armed with this knowledge, we can utilize technology to create solutions and deliver value by creating new ways of working.”
- “Perfect the art of the pivot” –Making changes isn’t so much about the change itself, but knowing when and why to make the change. This means that you need to know the metrics behind your business. When you try a new service, or make a change to the products you carry, make sure you are monitoring sales so that you know if that change made an impact. Not every new thing you try will work the first time, so you always need to track your sales and have a plan to adjust your course if needed.
The most important thing you can know about your pharmacy business is why customers shop with you. What makes your pharmacy different or better than the competition? What are they buying when they shop? What services do they use the most? The first step to answering these questions confidently is a pharmacy POS system that provides you not only with advanced product movement and sales tracking, but with technology capable of offering the services that set your pharmacy apart.