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10 merchandising hacks

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Effective Merchandising is a vital part of creating and maintaining a presentable and profitable Front Shop, writes Kelly Danvers*

Most of us give more floor space to our front-of-shop than our dispensary but we often don’t give enough time or thought to how our customers see our store, and whether we invite them to make a purchase from us. Here are 10 simple tips for effective merchandising.

1. Make it make sense!

Arrange your store logically. Divide your store into clear zones and arrange products in an order that relate to each other. Eg. Skincare near cosmetics and incontinence products near your home health range.

Do you have signs directing a customer where to find products?

Today’s shoppers have a short attention span, they may be happy to spend an hour wandering the aisles in the supermarket but they only want to spend five minutes in the pharmacy. So if they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they will give up and go somewhere else

2. Keeping it clean

Pull forward your stock. Fill your shelves and close the gaps. Give the glass shelves a dust. Replace any price labels that look old and torn. Remove any SALE tickets that no longer apply. This should be an everyday task in our pharmacy. Remember…Customers don’t want to buy it if it looks old or damaged or if it’s the last one on the shelf.

3. Re-Merchandise your staff

A forgotten merchandising strategy is to update your staff presentation. Are their uniforms looking a little old or untidy? Do they need a new name badge?

Are they wearing a smile? Remind them that they are never fully dressed until they have their SMILE on!

Your team are a reflection of your professionalism and presence.

First impressions of your staff count just as much as first impressions of your store.

4. Get their attention

Pharmacy customers often walk straight to the pharmacy counter from the entrance to hand in their prescription, ignoring everything and everyone they pass.

Or they have their eyes on their phone, posting the latest photo on Instagram.

Greet them as they walk in and get their attention. Most pharmacies have a counter at the entrance with a staff member in attendance. By saying “Hi” to our customers as they walk in, we can break their run to the script counter. They will have to stop to return the greeting and then hopefully have a look around and be more aware of what’s on offer in our store.

Set up an eye-catching display in your most used walkway (being careful not to block access or create a hazard, of course).

By placing something different in the middle of an aisle or on a gondola end, customers can be distracted into stopping and hopefully becoming retail shoppers.

5. Beat the boredom

Pharmacies rely on regular customers- the ones who come into your store two or three times every week. They may be retirees taking script medications, they could be a mother of three who’s always needing something for the kids. These customers spend the most time in your store and they are the ones who should be spending the most money in your store.

So your regular customers need regular stimulation. They want to see something new and exciting on display each week!

Change your display regularly. Plan ahead! You could think about making up a promotional calendar so you re-create and rotate your displays every fortnight.

6. What’s on the screen

Keep up to date with new products being advertised…

Remember that great new product that took your interest on the news last night or on Facebook this morning? It’s going to fix your back pain or your little baby’s eczema?

If it sounded interesting to you then there is a good chance that your customer is interested too.

Put it on display on your counter today. If you don’t have it, order it straight away!

Tell all your staff about it. Give them a five-minute training on the product if needed.

So when the customer comes in and asks “do you have that new coconut cream in the blue box, I don’t know the name…”

Put up a sign in your a-frame at the front of your store to let the customer know you now have the latest and greatest.

In today’s world, the power of advertising is amazing! Use it to your advantage!

7. Keep it current

Imagine…it’s the 12th of January and you still have tinsel hanging from your ceiling and your Christmas trading hours sign on your door! Large retailers have already got their Easter Eggs on display.

Schedule it in your diary to take down all promotional and advertising material as soon as the catalogue, in-store event or holiday season is over.

Your store should look fresh and exciting and be an advertisement for what is happening in your store today, not last month

8. Be aware of what other pharmacies are doing

Take a look inside your local pharmacy or in your nearest shopping centre. Do they have a great display of an in-store promotion? Maybe there’s a sign in their front window advertising a service or an event that you could try in your store too? Do some research online. What are other pharmacy groups advertising? Maybe a new organic skin care that you think your customers would like? Get inspired for your next display or a new product range and make it yours!

9. Stock sells stock

Don’t give prime space at the front of your store to stock that you have discounted because you are trying to clear it, or that you only have one or two items left over from an old promotion. Your most visible spot in your pharmacy should have a nice full display of a good seller at a good price.

Remember the Coke drinks or Smiths chips display at the supermarket? There is always lots of stock and they are all the popular flavours… or so we think and therefore so we buy!

10.Think about the profit

Are you aware of the profit you make on your products you put on display in your front shop?

Does that stack of Sorbent or Omo actually make you money or is there something else you could display that makes you more?

For years pharmacies have had general household items on display in prime locations. We think that’s what the customer wants and that it will lead to more sales- but often that is not so. Often, the customer only wants that cheap toilet paper and buys nothing else from us today or ever.

Take some time and look at sales of these products, run a report in your point of sale system, look at how long you’ve had this stock and how long it’s been in the same spot AND how much money you have actually made.

Be courageous… try new things! Order in a new range of sunglasses or some cool summer hats!

There is a good chance that you will make more profit on a $2 greeting card stand than a tower of toilet paper at your door.

And one more piece of advice…Rotate the re-merchandising responsibilities!

You just might find that the most creative and effective merchandiser in your store is the person who’s never been given the chance before.

*Kelly Danvers is a business support officer, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Qld branch)

This is an edited extract of an article that appeared in PA News.

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