Improving Front End Sales

By:
Tim Buskey
Posted:
February 27, 2013

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A Pharmacy Perspective: Improving the Effectiveness of Front End Sales 

 

AmerisourceBergen Vice President of Consumer Products Tim Buskey shares his thoughts on what it takes for community pharmacies to drive profitability in every part of their business. He weighs in on metrics for success in front-end performance and provides practical information on product selection and inventory, and how they're affected by consumer behavior. Buskey also reveals the impact that quality service can have on non-prescription sales. 


KD.COM:  FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH PHARMACIES, HOW SHOULD PHARMACY OWNERS EVALUATE HOW WELL THEIR FRONT END IS DOING AND WHERE THEY CAN IMPROVE?

Tim Buskey: Stores should start by actually measuring their sales by per linear foot of shelf space in a particular category. It's also important to have the appropriate retail price set by conducting periodic competitive shopping among neighboring pharmacies and matching their findings to the five retail price zones available from AmerisourceBergen. These price zones enable customers to price their items based on store demographics to stay competitive. Additionally, stores should take full advantage of AmerisourceBergen's vast array of plan-o-grams and merchandisers.

KD.COM:  WHAT ARE SOME EASY AND LOGICAL WAYS TO INCREASE FRONT-END SALES? WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF LONGER TERM INITIATIVES THAT COULD PROVIDE ADDITIONAL SIGNIFICANT RETURN?

Tim Buskey:  For the short term, it's important that pharmacies have the right products merchandised on their shelves and those products are priced competitively.  Also, keep in mind some shoppers prefer store brand items, so having theGood Neighbor Pharmacybrand adjacent to the national brand equivalent is of critical importance.  From a long-term perspective, I would encourage pharmacies to look for an opportunity to connect their front-end product offerings with their particular prescription business, and tailor it to a particular patient demographic. For example, many chronic medications cause dry mouth. This can lead to compromised oral care, which can lead to more significant, systemic problems. If a pharmacy recommends a saliva substitute to minimize this side effect, there's the benefit of improving the patient's health and the benefit of the pharmacy playing a more active role in helping that patient manage his or her condition.

There's also an opportunity for the pharmacy to look at a customer's shopping basket. A recent white paper published by the Hamacher Resource Group, "Growth Drivers: The Factors Behind Independent Pharmacy OTC Sales," in May 2012 sheds light on the "growing market basket" and how store layout and where category items are placed makes the shopping experience easier for consumers, while potentially maximizing their spend in the pharmacy. 

For example, patients with first aid items in their basket typically also shop for wound care, pain relief and home healthcare items because they may be experiencing limited mobility after a possible surgery. In addition, sun care items are usually found alongside skin care, pain relief and cold and allergy (lip care) to help with sunburn relief. Studying how consumers shop and what items they typically purchase-and addressing a pharmacy's layout-is a clear way to increase profits in the pharmacy front end.

KD.COM:  HOW DOES AN ELEMENT LIKE PRODUCT AVAILABILITY IMPACT FRONT-END SALES?

Tim Buskey:  This is very important. No pharmacy or merchant wants empty space on the shelves. When products become unavailable, it's important that the pharmacy responds to that unavailability and replaces product with something that's appropriate, perhaps theGood Neighbor Pharmacystore brand. This is where services like AmerisourceBergen's plan-o-grams can really help. We refresh our plan-o-grams on a regular basis primarily to address the problems in the supply chain. Plus, we like to fit in new items on the shelves as they hit the market.

KD.COM: HOW DOES CUSTOMER SERVICE DELIVERED BY PHARMACY STAFF AFFECT FRONT-END SALES?

Tim Buskey:  It's imperative that pharmacy staff, whether they're behind the prescription counter or out in front, be familiar with the product offerings that the store is actually marketing. Consequently it's important that the pharmacist or the pharmacy owner trains staff to respond intelligently to customer questions, or to make suggestions for companion sales with regards to other items the customer might have in their shopping basket.

KD.COM:  WE'VE TALKED ABOUT HOW TO BOOST FRONT-END SALES ONCE CUSTOMERS ARE ALREADY IN THE PHARMACY. ARE THERE ANY BEST PRACTICES FOR GETTING POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS TO THINK OF THEIR LOCALGOOD NEIGHBOR PHARMACYLOCATIONS AS MORE THAN JUST A PLACE TO PICK UP PRESCRIPTIONS?

Tim Buskey:  It's important to emphasize that the localGood Neighbor Pharmacyis a healthcare destination, not just for prescription services, but for products crucial to a patient's health.

AmerisourceBergen has a vast array of marketing and advertising materials that Good Neighbor Pharmacy can access through an online portal, GNPBrandCentralStation.com. On the portal there are a wide variety of templates, from print advertising to in-store posters and bag stuffers that pharmacies can utilize to attract new patients into their store. A great tool to attract new shoppers to the store is to mail the monthly four-page Good Neighbor Pharmacy circular to local residents.  They should also evaluate their local market to determine the need and identify opportunities to cultivate a niche practice.

For example, many Good Neighbor Pharmacy members have taken advantage of the opportunity to grow their durable medical equipment (DME) offering and have been extremely successful. Not only does this attract patients for that particular need, but once they come into the store to pick up their DME requirements, they also transfer their prescriptions to that pharmacy. That's a case where everybody wins; the pharmacy certainly gains more business and the patient receives all of their care in one location with tremendous patient care services. This positions the pharmacy as a healthcare destination, not just merely a place where the prescriptions are filled.

Tim Buskey

Tim Buskey

Tim Buskey currently serves as Vice President of Consumer Products for AmerisourceBergen Corporation after joining the company in 2011 as Vice President of Supply Chain for the consumer product portfolio.

With more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience, Mr. Buskey has had numerous roles which spanned the pharmaceutical industry including commercial operations, marketing, sales management, account management and business development in both the over-the-counter (OTC) and Rx space. Previously, he served as Chief Commercial Officer/Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for pharmaCline, a startup pharmaceutical company focused on anti-infective and wound care disease. He has also served in various roles for Reckitt Benckiser, Inc. (formerly Adams Respiratory Therapeutics), Muro Pharmaceutical Inc. and Astra USA, Inc.

Mr. Buskey received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating summa cum laude, and has continued his executive education through leadership courses at Harvard Business School.

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