As a profession and a sector, there is more opportunity than ever for the pharmacy team to support patients with their health. To better service the self care agenda, the Warman-Freed Learning Pharmacy team recognised the need to update the layout of the store to better reflect the requirements of a modern community pharmacy.
The refit sought to refresh and optimise several elements of the store. This included:
Ms Farah Ali, general manager at The Learning Pharmacy explains: “When we started talking to companies that offered pharmacy design services, there were huge promises of growth. With a year under our belt, we wanted to understand the extent to which the business has benefited from the refit investment.”
“2016 was a difficult year for the prescription business after we suffered the loss of a care home contract,” says Ms Ali. “However, upon reviewing our walk-in and electronic prescription items a year on from our refit, there has been an incredible 18 per cent growth compared to 2015.”
The team attributes this success in part to the increased accessibility of the pharmacy team following the counter being redesigned and moved to a more central position in-store. In addition, the improved pharmacy signage and a renewed focus on electronic prescriptions (including staff training and customer dialogue) have also contributed to this growth.
“The new counter has meant there is now greater interaction between customers and the pharmacist, which encourages patients to visit us as the first port of call for healthcare advice,” says Ms Ali. “The different privacy options on offer (including a privacy screen and professional consultation room) mean that we are able to offer more in-depth consultation services.”
Given that the store previously had several premium beauty and fragrance concessions but minimal pharmacy signage, a key priority for the refit was to shake up the store image and re-emphasise the healthcare offering. The healthcare general sale lines were moved to the front of the store, enabling the team to reinvigorate and grow the healthcare offering without hindering the retail business.
The team also made adjustments to ensure local needs were considered and that hero lines were given more prominence. “Ahead of the refit, we took steps to understand what the top 10 best sellers were for each category,” says Ms Ali. “With this information to hand, plus knowledge of the local community and EPOS data insights, we were able to strategically map and planogram our store space.”
Retail sales in 2015 were impacted by partclosure of the pharmacy during the refit, so the team compared 2016 sales with those from 2014. “In 2014 we had two big beauty houses in-store that contributed nicely to our bottom line,” says Ms Ali. “Since moving away from working with these providers we were worried about the impact on our profits. However, with the strategic changes and merchandising decisions made with our local customer base in mind we are delighted that in 2016 we have managed to equal 2014 retail sales – a huge achievement.”
The refit has enabled the pharmacy to establish itself as a healthcare destination in its own right and staff engagement and customer uptake of services has increased significantly.
“There are still some areas where we can do more to maximise the potential of our store,” says Ms Ali. “The consultation room is a great asset for us, but there is still more that we can do, and the waiting area isn’t used as much as it could be, as it can feel a bit disconnected from the shop floor, so we’ll be looking to address this.”
“The refit means we are in a great position, but we recognise the need to continue to re-evaluate to ensure the pharmacy continues to be successful. We’re proud of where we’ve got to over the past year, and, as a team, we continue to seek out ways in which we can add value to the community.”