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HDMA appoints three new directors

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — At the HDMA Business and Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla., the association announced the appointment of three new directors: Scott Franklin, president, TopRx; Lenny Rodriguez, CEO, Attain Med; and Todd Szewc, CFO and VP administration, KeySource Medical. 

“It is an exciting time to lead this association, especially with the momentum surrounding a federal traceability framework and partnering with stakeholders to curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic,” stated HDMA president and CEO John Gray. “I welcome Scott, Lenny and Todd — three distinctive new voices to our board — and look forward to working with them in the future.”     

The HDMA board is chaired by David Neu, president, AmerisourceBergen with Ted Scherr, president and CEO, Dakota Drug, serving as vice chairman. 


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GMDC presentation ‘LINCs’ retail pharmacy to patient loyalists

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN ANTONIO — Retail pharmacists will be missing out on as much as a $20 billion opportunity if they don’t identify how to consistently and efficiently engage their patients, suggested Jeff Rehling, principal at Edgewood Consulting Group, during a business session Sunday at the recent 2013 GMDC Health & Wellness @Retail Conference. 

There will be plenty of organic growth in the sale of prescription medicines and front-end health solutions, Rehling acknowledged, but convenience and price are no longer destination differentiators — all pharmacy retailers trade on those factors. And mobile technology is quickly changing the patient’s decision-making tree as it becomes easier to access credible health information at the swipe of a tablet screen as opposed to asking a pharmacist. 

The opportunities to build relationships between pharmacist and patient are dwindling. According to Rehling’s research, 52% of patients report they don’t have a relationship with their pharmacist and only 10% proactively sought after their pharmacist for health advice in the three months prior to the consumer survey. 

The absence of that kind of relationship building may be one factor behind a lack of loyalty. “Four-out-of-10 consumers will easily switch stores," Rehling said. "Those are the people you want to protect if you have them and the people you want to go out and get if you don’t," Rehling told session attendees. Converting those consumers from pharmacy agnostics to pharmacy loyalists means incremental growth. "Pharmacy shoppers have a 25% higher non-pharmacy basket of product than the average shopper," Rehling said. "If every shopper bought one or more items when picking up their prescription, it would mean $4.8 billion more in sales across the country.”

"Customer satisfaction is worthless; it’s customer loyalty that’s important," Rehling noted, quoting business author Jeffrey Gitomer. 

Rehling outlined a four-prong strategy to help retailers and supplier partners better link store merchandising and marketing to patient-oriented decision making called, incidentally, LINC (Loyalty, Information and Incentives, Nutrition and Connections). The strategy helps define what patients are looking for in a retail pharmacy, and by that helps retailers develop and incentivize services and products that match patient needs. 

Communicating nutritional needs may be one way to connect with the consumer, Rehling suggested. Almost two-out-of-three pharmacy shoppers buy VMS products, for example, he said. Even so, 55% of pharmacy trips result in no front-end purchase. There lies the opportunity, Rehling noted — improving the lives of these patients may help capture incremental sales. 

It’s all about disruptive innovation, Rehling said. 

“If we look at what Starbuck’s experienced back in 2002, we find that there are parallels in their strategies that pharmacies could embrace today. One of the most successful coffee retailers of all time figured out that they needed to please two different audiences, one looking for service and experience and the other looking for speed," Rehling said. "They realized that the experience and expectations between the two are very different but instead of picking one target they embraced the opportunity to meet multiple needs in their total store experience.”

 

 

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Letting shoppers buy online, pick up in store could drive more customer traffic, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA — Integration of social and mobile media, as well as shipping options and flexible returns, can drive brand loyalty as consumers seek out more choices and convenience when shopping online, according to a new study.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study, conducted by comScore and UPS, polled 3,000 consumers earlier this year about which factors led them to shop more on computers, tablets and smartphones and to abandon brick-and-mortar shopping and recommend retailers to friends. It found that 44% were more likely to shop with a retailer if they could buy online and pick up an item and the store, while 62% wanted the ability to buy online and return items to a store.

"Consumers have a growing number of digital touch points, with more ways to stay connected with their online retailers through every phase of the shopping, buying and fulfillment process," comScore senior director Susan Engleson said. "What will set apart one retailer from another in a competitive marketplace is how well they meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers."

Forty-six percent said they were less likely to comparison shop when using a retailer’s mobile app, while 47% said they wanted retailers to send coupons to their smartphones when in-store or nearby. Meanwhile, 84% of online shoppers use at least one social media site, while 60% of Facebook users will "like" a brand to receive an incentive or promotion.

When it comes to shipping, three-quarters of shoppers report adding items to their online carts to qualify for free shipping, while 78% will choose the least expensive shipping option, and 97% said tracking a purchase is essential or nice to have. But only 44% said they were currently satisfied with their ability to reroute a package, and retailers that support such changes have a competitive advantage.

Returns are another important service, with 63% of respondents to last year’s study reporting that they reviewed a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, a figure that increased to 66% in this year’s survey. Eighty-two percent said they would complete a purchase if they could return the item to a store or have free return shipping, and 67% said they would shop more with a retailer offering such a service.

 

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