Defining your pharmacy identity

Warman-Freed Pharmacy has been serving the healthcare needs of the Golders Green
community in London since 1956.

The success of this bustling, double-fronted, 100-hour, high street pharmacy and perfumery can be attributed to a clear and focused mission to put the customer first – providing the community with premium beauty concessions, as well as a host of pharmacy services that go above and beyond traditional medicine dispensing.

Six months ago, Warman-Freed also became a centre for pharmacy learning, with behind-thescenes support from Omega Pharma. The business continues to operate as a fully functional retail pharmacy, but now has additional capabilities, including a dedicated research team whose purpose is to monitor and track how the pharmacy is used by the local community.

The insights will be used to help improve Warman-Freed and support better health across the entire country. ‘Our intention is to be completely transparent on both our successes and failures,’ says Joanna Mills, the Learning Pharmacy’s research specialist.

‘We want to share our experiences at Warman-Freed so other pharmacies can consider applying the learnings in their own communities.’

What does your pharmacy identity say about you?

Warman-Freed has a strong local identity and we thought we knew what it stood for, but analysis found that our health message wasn’t as strong as it could be. Our customers were sometimes left confused:

  • Window displays centred on premium beauty and not health
  • No mention of our late opening hours
  • No healthcare icons or cues outside the pharmacy to signpost services
  • Retail layout of OTC products made selfselection difficult
  • Limited health awareness information or guidance on how to access the pharmacy services.

So, for the past few months we’ve been considering some key questions that will help improve our identity both inside and outside the pharmacy.

What should you be best at?

We’ve considered businesses with really strong identities, such as John Lewis, famous for customer service, and Poundland, well known for having a broad range of products at one low price, and reflected on the attributes that we want to be best at.

We’ve learned that by being clear and decisive about the pharmacy identity, customers will come to know exactly what to expect each time they enter your doors, making them more likely to embrace the services you offer and engage in your retail offering. The following questions help in defining this identity:

  • What do you do well?
  • Where do you want to be in the future?
  • Who are your customers? (eg cross-check with your local PNA)
  • How do you (or can you) stand out from competitors locally?

From the answers, select the top two attributes that mean the most to your business. Apply these extremes to each axis of this graph, taking time to plot where you want your pharmacy business to sit in relation to these. This can then become a compass for decision-making in the future.

Making a conscious decision about what you are striving to achieve can then guide your decision-making. For example, at Warman-Freed we are introducing a programme of additional and enhanced services, including cholesterol testing and a travel vaccination clinic, and we now stock skincare brands with a more overt healthcare crossover – for which strong sales have already been noted.

So what can you do? Give the ‘identity’ process a try and see what you can learn about your pharmacy, too.

Your identity checklist

  • Don’t be all things to all people – focus your business on some core aims
  • Consider what sets you apart – don’t try and be a ‘me too’ operation
  • Ensure your team know and understand what you are trying to achieve
  • Don’t compromise your identity – be clear on what you stand for.

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