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Pharmaca Healthcare Practitioners

BY Michael Johnsen

Positioning a knowledgeable healthcare advocate in the front-end aisles isn’t new — Pharmaca has banked on this key point of differentiation since its inception more than a decade ago. “Anytime you put anybody in the aisle for customer service, you’re going to increase your sales,” commented Mark Panzer, Pharmaca CEO. “Because people are looking for information; they’re looking for recommendations, a consultation to help them establish a regimen … to improve their health condition,” he said. “Anytime you can supply them with anybody who has any knowledge on their health care, whether a naturopathic doctor or health adviser, is a good move for the industry.”

Pharmaca’s health-and-wellness ambassadors are distinct from the ambassadors across the national retailers in that they are actual healthcare professionals — naturopathic doctors, homeopathic doctors, nurse practitioners, ayurvedic doctors and even aestheticians. “They’re knowledge base is a little bit more than just the product in the store — they have a deeper knowledge base to pull from to help patients on OTCs, supplements, nutrition [and] beauty care,” Panzer said.

Pharmaca currently operates 24 stores across five states.

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Max-Wellness Advocates

BY Michael Johnsen

Max-Wellness, a health-and-wellness concept store, has incorporated proactive employees armed with health information as part of its DNA since the company’s inception in 2010. The store format features “Max-Answers” information stations that house tablets that can either be picked up by a customer or a Max-Wellness associate for use right at the shelf of interest.

The health tablet programming is driven by Aisle7 but has been customized by Max-Wellness. And that health information isn’t static, noted company founder Michael Feuer, as the Max-Wellness advocates remain abreast of health news daily as a key discipline. “We want people to come in and say, ‘I just read this.’ … And we want [our advocates] to be authoritative. That’s really what makes us different.”

There are five Max-Wellness locations across Ohio and Florida.

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Rite Aid Wellness Ambassadors

BY Michael Johnsen

As part of Rite Aid’s new Wellness store formats, Rite Aid has positioned its Wellness Ambassador in front of the OTC aisles armed with an iPad that has access to vetted health information. “Our Wellness Ambassadors play an important role in the customer experience,” noted Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy. “They’re there to help patients talk to the pharmacist [for] specific answers to their health questions,” he said. “With us, it’s personal,” Thompson added, referencing Rite Aid’s long-standing maxim. “This is just an additional resource dedicated to building a personal relationship with our customers.”

Rite Aid’s Wellness Ambassadors also are fostering relationships with the local health community with visits to nearby senior homes and healthcare practices armed with information on all the services Rite Aid pharmacy offers.

And the Wellness Ambassadors are specially trained through a regimen that includes a series of live classroom sessions, computer-based modules and on-the-job training, along with regular updates.

Rite Aid fields 423 Wellness format stores today, all of which are populated with a Wellness Ambassador, and plans to grow that number to 780, or 17% of the company’s store base, by the end of its fiscal 2013.

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