Healthier sales – the importance of your pharmacy’s retail environment

Published on 27th August 2019

Shopping has become a science. Behavioural scientists have analysed every aspect of shopper behaviour - and come up with some findings that are not too surprising. That a well-designed retail environment can make a big difference to the level of sales you enjoy.

So what is a well designed retail environment?  

We’re all used to the easy-to-navigate layout in supermarkets - which have gone from the old ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ model to sophisticated and well-lit displays that make it easy to find what we need - and tempt us to try things that we didn’t know we wanted.

The large chain pharmacies are adopting the same techniques, so it is only natural that shoppers will expect the same high-quality retail environment from your independent pharmacy. 

You need to answer those expectations - because retail is the key not just to profits, but for the survival of most pharmacy practices. Your prescription footfall can bring people in but you need to make the most of those potential customers to compete with the supermarkets and discounters on everything from OTC meds to beauty. Remember, the independent sector now sees a percentage split between retail and prescription business of around 90:10, compared to more like 80:20 a decade ago.

“As a pharmacist, you must make your retail space work harder for you. Even your prescription customers will go elsewhere if they don’t like your retail offering.”

You need to look at every aspect of your business, from window display to layout, your lighting and product offering and your display equipment. 

Start in the street

What does your pharmacy look like from the outside? The majority of people make decisions on where they shop, and the services and practices they do business with based on appearances.

If your premises look run down or dated, it sends out a subconscious message. The potential customer is left with the impression that the business is dated - they won’t even come in for their prescription, let alone the latest beauty lines. Successful businesses who have a high street presence consistently invest in their exteriors, which work to attract patients, and in interiors which will welcome them in. It may be expensive but, in marketing terms, it is part of creating a positive brand experience. Of course, a new shop front will always be a major investment and needs to be carefully thought out. Plus, you may require planning permission from your local authority if you want to make major changes to windows and signage.

Looking to update your pharmacy or chemists? Struggling to find the funding you need? Speak to the pharmacy experts at Rangewell and find out what options are available 

Come inside

Pharmacy customers may head for the counter when collecting a prescription and ignore the retail space altogether, so it’s important to involve them right from the start.

Keep it logical and simple - too much clutter leads to confusion and fewer sales. Shoppers have short attention spans and if they cannot see what they’re looking for, they’ll look elsewhere.

If they do see what they want, make sure that all products and shelving are clean and dust-free at all times. If products look dirty, the customer will believe they are out-of-date or unpopular and not make a purchase.

“Too much stock crammed onto shelves means customers can’t find what they are looking for - less is more.”

Look at the number of lines you stock. The optimum number of retail products in a store could be around 2,500. Many independent pharmacists stock up to 6,000, meaning problems for customers, staff - and stock freshness.  

“Your wholesaler will probably provide deliveries twice a day, so if something isn’t in stock you can get it fast. That’s something the supermarkets can’t do”.

Light it all up

Lighting is crucial to retail. The latest LED lights are cooler and cost much less to run - and give a bright, attractive light that makes all your stock look fresher and more attractive. Older customers may actually need brighter lights to read labels - but all ages tend to buy more when they can see more.

Properly designed lighting and modern retail displays may be expensive, but they do provide the opportunity to create measurable increases in sales. 

You may be able to bring in new lighting and sales equipment on a piecemeal basis, using Asset Finance to provide the funding and spread the cost - but it may be that a piecemeal approach will not work.

A complete redesign of your interior may actually be the best way to bring your business up-to-date. A quality approach is essential, and you may need to find a shopfitting provider which can offer a complete design, build and fit service.

Costs may be high. Investing in the appearance of your business is likely to cost a minimum of £10,000, and probably considerably more if you are going for a full interior refit.

You may require a loan secured on your premises themselves to provide the necessary size of funding. However, this is a justifiable business expense and certainly one that will bring in returns in the form of additional revenue.

Getting the funding you need to refurbish your pharmacy

There are a number of types of business funding, including some innovative new solutions, which could help provide the funds you need to refit and refresh your chemist shop.

Getting the funding you need can start with a call to Rangewell. The Rangewell team is made up of experts in all areas of business lending - and includes specialists in the pharmaceutical sector. We can work with you to find the business funding solutions you need for your pharmacy, and search more than 350 UK lenders to ensure you get the most appropriate deal and the most competitive rates, saving you money and making the most of the potential of your pharmacy.


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Richard Mitchell

Richard Mitchell

Content writer
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