WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Going fresh has emerged as one of the biggest trends in the retail pharmacy business, but due to various limitations — including smaller store size and disproportionate space devoted to such traditional categories as over-the-counter medicines and beauty — fresh food generally has meant such items as salads and fresh fruit.
(THE NEWS: Report: Smart Butcher vending machine offers fresh meat. For the full story, click here)
But such vending machines as the Smart Butcher greatly expand the realm of possibility for the kinds of fresh foods that drug stores can sell. It may not offer the same ability to browse different cuts that a supermarket meat section does, or the personal touch of the neighborhood butcher shop, but it does offer a new dimension of convenience: A customer in a hurry to get home and cook dinner can walk up to the machine, enter the desired cut, swipe a card and be on his or her way, maybe grabbing some frozen vegetables from the freezer on the way out.
Ultimately, that kind of convenience is what pharmacy retailers are all about these days, and it’s why so many of them are getting into fresh food in the first place.