According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, OTC medication sales have more than doubled in the past six years. The association noted that access to appropriate medicines without a prescription empowers consumers to take greater control over their self-care selections and provides tremendous public health benefits, the association said. While drug stores across North America have diversified their mix over the past few years, over-the-counter medications remain at the heart of most every pharmacy retailer’s efforts, helping to maintain the drug channel’s inherent value as a front-line healthcare provider and the outlet of choice for consumers suffering from a wide range of minor illnesses.
In an article published by the multimedia publisher C+D, they provide six steps to maximizing OTC sales. Mr. Gore of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals offers some wise advice on how to boost OTC sales.
Add visibility to signposts. Make sure all signs for brands are visible in all categories. This visibility is important even to those customers who aren’t brand-focused, he explains. Another tip is avoiding overstocking. It’s been proven that consumers find it easier to shop when you have fewer products and less clutter. Focus on stocking the basics in different pack sizes, he suggests, adding that if you need to stock a product for a particular loyal customer that is not popular with others, there is no need to have it out on display – keep it in a drawer.
Put the best product in the best place on the shelf. Data shows that on a five-shelf unit, the biggest proportion of sales is from the middle shelf, closely followed by the second from top; the bottom shelf has the lowest proportion of sales. Moving a product from the bottom to second from top shelf increases sales by 78 per cent; the reverse relocation decreases sales by 40 per cent.
Of course price is important – but it’s not community pharmacy’s unique selling point. Don’t underestimate your merchandising mindset. “We have got to get out of the mindset that [selling medicines] is just a cash transaction,” Mr. Gore adds. “It’s about adding value not price – it’s about understanding the difference between them.” And it’s the customer who decides what good value means to them.
Promotions can play a role in customers’ purchasing decisions, says Mr. Gore, but make sure you know why you are offering them. Take time to analyze what is the most effective for your pharmacy and your customers.
- Public expectation
The public expects advice from community pharmacies, and you should offer it with every sale you make. Eight per cent of independent pharmacies didn’t ask any questions when selling medicines and that’s frown upon.
Your staff is your biggest asset. A simple way to motivate them is to keep them informed. “How can you expect your number one asset to be involved in helping you do what you’re going to do if you haven’t told them what the game is?” Mr. Gore says.
And one more thing…
Perhaps we should add another P to pharmacies’ merchandising mantra – presentation. Keeping the pharmacy’s display clean and uncluttered is appealing to customers. Same deal goes to the shelves on the aisles.