Hamacher, HDMA report analyzes front end as profit driver for independent pharmacy

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Over-the-counter products across the front-end are becoming a more and more important profit driver for independent pharmacy operators, Hamacher Resource Group and the Healthcare Distribution Management Association revealed Wednesday as part of new research titled "Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?" The report places a spotlight on the independent pharmacy front-end customer and helps identify shopper behaviors, purchase preferences and potential barriers that stand in the way of further engagement with independents.

According to the 48-page report, as many as 73% of pharmacists surveyed reported their front-end businesses were either growing or holding steady. And according to the research, as the frequency of shopping trips increased, so did the corresponding percentages of OTC and personal care purchases. In other words, the more often an independent pharmacy patient visited the store, the more likely they were to walk out with an OTC or beauty-care item in their shopping bag each trip. "The average independent [made] 10 recommendations per day for OTCs," Dave Wendland, VP, told attendants to a webinar hosted by Hamacher and HDMA Wednesday afternoon.

To help maximize productivity of an OTC set within the independent setting, set planograms and point-of-purchase materials are a good starting point, Wendland suggested.

"Among all shoppers interviewed, those who spent approximately 15 minutes in the store made the most OTC purchases," the report noted. "Those who spent less than 15 minutes in the store made the most purchases of personal care products. The lesson to independent pharmacies is to ensure those 15 minutes are 'productive' time. For example, they could train staff to interact with customers by recommending companion purchases. The goal is to match the speed of front-end service with the speed of prescription transactions."

Even as OTC grows in importance for independent operators, the greater incursion of the dollar channel into health and beauty items has emerged as a direct competitive threat to independent pharmacies.

In addition to HDMA, "Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?" was made possible through the sponsorships of AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, H. D. Smith, Johnson & Johnson Sales and Logistics Company, McKesson, Mutual Wholesale Drug Company, Novartis Consumer Health, Smith Drug Company and Value Drug Company.

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