Is this the future of pharmacy?
Don't get left behind by the big chains
As large chains improve their stores, is it time to consider whether your pharmacy shop can work harder for you?
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On one hand, Boots may be closing unprofitable branches across the country - but on the other, it has opened a new 28,500 square foot store in Covent Garden, Central London.
It seems to confirm that Boots remains committed to remaining the most prominent of the retail chains - and that the future of the pharmacy sector may look very different.
The bright new flagship store is spread across three zones, with the themes of ‘Looking good’ ‘Living well’ and ‘Getting better.’ It features a new-look beauty hall with two beauty studios, ‘trend zones’, ‘discovery areas’, live demonstration zones and expert advisors on hand.
However, there is more to the innovation being trialled in the store than simply a stylish approach to retail design.
The pharmacy area includes new prescription collection lockers, express pick-up lanes and extra consultation areas.
It also offers services such as skin scanning and UTI test and treat, which is already being rolled out across the Boots' estate. There is a new digital health check machine and an orthotics station. The store will also be home to Boots’ biggest ever wellness range, with 32 new brands including Beauty Kitchen and Equi.
Of course, there has been considerable investment in the new beauty hall, which now includes over 300 brands.
Pointing the way to the future
Boots has already announced its intention to refit 24 of its beauty halls across the country as part of a major store upgrade programme. It looks as though many of the other ideas which are being tested in Covent Garden will be finding themselves in an updated Boots branch near you.
If the new store is a sign of the way the pharmacy sector is going, it is clear that, as an independent, you may have some increased competition to deal with.
If the Boots of the future is offering both a luxurious beauty department and cutting-edge pharmacy retail technology, you might feel that you will be hard-pressed to keep up.
However, with help from Rangewell, you may be able to provide a pharmacy and chemist shop experience designed for the future.
What you can achieve with the right finance in place
With the right finance in place you can:
- Pharmacy refurbishment for your shopfront to generate the same impact as the Boots flagship
- Provide a refreshed retail interior, making full use of the latest retail technique and equipment
- Extend your sales floor if your premises allow it - to provide more sales opportunities
- Introduce new pharmaceutical technology, which will let you make full use of apps and other technology to provide an enhanced and personalised dispensing service
- Introduce personal health services - such as smoking cessation and testing, which will provide new revenue streams and build customer loyalty
- Bring in new retail lines geared towards new segments of the general population.
As a small, independent pharmacist, you may find it challenging to duplicate the scale of the Covent Garden flagship store, but you can offer something that it cannot, in the form of personal service.
By providing a caring and individual service you can provide your customers with support that can make a real contribution to their wellbeing and overall health - while enjoying the rewards of increased efficiency and profitability yourself.
What about the costs?
Of course, whatever route you take to move your pharmacy forward, you will need to invest to make the changes you need. A planned programme of refurbishment, which allows you to introduce new products and services, needs to be carefully costed and codified into a business development plan.
With that plan in place, you will need to find the most appropriate funding solutions to allow you to put it into practice.
Remember that more than one funding solution may be required. When your plans include such things as retail refurbishment, staff training and the adoption of new technology, you may need to ensure that each expense is covered by the most appropriate type of funding to keep the overall cost of finance to a minimum.
So, for example, the most appropriate funding for new retail equipment may be an Asset Finance arrangement, where the equipment itself provides the security for a loan. The funding for staff training may be better provided by a flexible Short-term Loan, or Merchant Cash Advance.
However, understanding the most appropriate type of finance for each need can be easier if you have the help of the experts at Rangewell.
At Rangewell, we have Business Funding Specialists helping to find business loans for pharmacy professionals every day. You can call on their skills when your pharmacy has a funding requirement, and rely on them to find not only the types of finance you need - but the most cost-effective sources. We can even help you source support for your pharmacy - from financial advisors for your pharmacy to accountants and even equipment suppliers with our Pharmacists Directory. And if you are just starting out, Start-Up Finance for your pharmacy may be an option too.
You may not be ready to take on Boots, but with some help from the Rangewell team, you and your independent pharmacy can still join them in providing a service for the future.