Giant Eagle’s HBW pilot takes wing

PITTSBURGH —Giant Eagle is fast gaining a reputation for thinking outside of the box—or, rather, tinkering with the box—of supermarket pharmacy. The latest innovative concept is Giant Eagle’s HBW (health/beauty/wellness) concept that’s currently being piloted in four locations. If proven successful, it could become a benchmark in how to maximize a supermarket pharmacy’s true potential—threading its healthcare link from the pharmacy through a robust health, beauty and wellness department and on into the remainder of the food store.

The concept initially had rolled out in November, and within those first four months, the grocer has experienced a double-digit lift in its health and beauty business.

Weaving it all together are Giant Eagle’s healthcare professionals—the pharmacist, a pair of full-time dieticians and on-site nutritionists, and licensed aestheticians—many of whom are not only available for everyday questions, but also participate in scheduled educational sessions or healthy-food-shopping walk-throughs. “Having in-store dieticians allows us to bridge that gap [between pharmacy and food store],” Joshua Shapira, Giant Eagle director of health and wellness, and architect of the program, told Drug Store News during a tour of the new concept.

The HBW pilot department occupies between 10,000 sq. ft. and 12,000 sq. ft. Some of the highlights include a full-service pharmacy featuring a convenient drive-through window. Alongside that pharmacy is a private room for use in pharmacist-patient consultations, or in the administration of vaccinations.

The pharmacy and HBW department enjoy a dedicated entrance, as well as a dedicated checkout, sans candy bars. Behind the checkout and facing the customer is a calendar where Giant Eagle features the healthcare happenings of the week a la Starbucks-styled chalkboard flair.

Within the department itself is a supplement section expanded by some 500 SKUs and organized by function in place of brand-blocking. As part of that section, there is a refrigerator unit showcasing best-kept-cold supplements like probiotics and fish oils. There is a healthy-snack section featuring fresh fruits and nuts alongside some 8 linear ft. of homeopathy, similar to the dedicated homeopathy centers in a Whole Foods. There also is an entire aisle featuring gluten-free products, including some frozen-food gluten-free offerings housed within a freezer unit that’s been incorporated into the low-profile gondola.

In the beauty department, where a dedicated aesthetician proactively interacts with shoppers, there are several prestige cosmetic and beauty lines that typically are only available at department stores, and without the price tags many shoppers associate with those department stores. In all, the new HBW concept store has added approximately 1,000 beauty SKUs not typically found at the neighborhood grocer. The upgraded beauty department also features a selection of custom-cut natural soaps.

Interspersed throughout the HBW department is everything you’d expect to find in a typical drug store from stomach aids to analgesics to cough-cold products. The four concept stores are located in Akron, Ohio, and Wexford, New Kensington and Robinson, Pa.

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