Once upon a time there was a ……………..

On your visit to a pharmacy store have you ever wondered the assortment of products the store has? Have you seen great displays of any brand in the store?

A visit to a pharmacy is full of surprises for me. The visit always fascinates me. The pharmacy apart from the medical related products has a lot of other Fast Moving Consumer Goods Products (FMCG). Here the retailer has ventured into categories which are beyond his core competency.

A small pharmacist will have basic chocolate ranges. (Of course they are impulses, anyone and everyone can buy it), baby care range such as diapers, baby lotions, talc, cream, shampoos etc. Infact a manager from a Baby care company did state that pharmacies hold a major share of the market compared to regular retailers for their products. The logic could when a baby is born it is but natural that a father visits a pharmacy to buy the prescribed products. Hence he visits the same store to buy the basic baby needs products. Baby-care products could be a natural extension for the store.

There are stores which have products which are beyond the scope of a normal pharmacist. It displays products from corn flakes to biscuits to shaving cream to skin cream to soaps to shampoos to deodorants to mosquito liquid refills to tissues. These companies buy space with the pharmacist to get exclusive display space for their brand with their own company branding. This means additional money for the pharmacist

These products could definitely add to the overall sales value. But its actual value addition in terms of the positioning of the pharmacist, his inventory, returns per sq ft is questionable? If the contribution of non medical products increases the pharmacist will increase the space given for such products. This will affect the space for the medicinal products thereby having an impact on the assortment. Hence the pharmacist will reduce the medical products sold to provide space for the FMCG products. As the assortment of the medicinal products decrease there are chances that a actual customer for whom the pharmacy was targeted may turn away as his needs are no longer met by the pharmacist. Thus the very existence of a pharmacy is at stake. Hence it’s a vicious cycle.

I remember a few years ago a neighbor had to buy some medicines. He checked out at all the pharmacies nearby yet did not get the medicine. Then I suggested him a huge pharmacy close to our place. He stared at me and said isn’t that a place which sells pet related products? I was shocked hearing this as that was one of the biggest pharmacies in the neighbourhood. The reason for such an opinion was the pharmacy has a window display of the dog food products and the window display was hired by that brand. There were a lot of pets found with their owners near that store as the pharmacy sold all pet care related products. Thus many of its potential customers did not consider it as a pharmacy.

While the overall sales and profitability is the driver of a business it’s very important for a pharmacy to draw a line and know how much is too much? Its need to know the extension it can have away from its core category.

Any such observation where a pharmacist has diverted from its core offering?

Please share with me at passionateaboutretail@gmail.com


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