Guest Blog by DiversifyRx CRO, Heather Haro
In a constantly evolving independent pharmacy landscape, staying up-to-date with the latest products, services, and strategies is vital for pharmacy owners. The NACDS Total Store Expo, an annual event hosted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), provides a platform for attendees to immerse themselves in a sea of innovation, insights, and transformative ideas.
This year’s Total Store Expo was held from August 12th to 14th in the vibrant city of San Diego, California, bringing together an array of pharmacy professionals, exhibitors, and innovators under one massive roof. As I stepped into the sprawling exhibition area spanning a staggering 615,700 square feet, I was ready to be enlightened by the wealth of knowledge and opportunities.
I am a real nerd for this stuff! I had the privilege of attending this year’s expo, and the experience left me so excited to share all that I learned with you, including the weirdest thing I have ever won in my life! I will share my initial thoughts and main ideas I could not wait to share, and over the next few weeks, I will dive deeply into my favorite strategies via videos and podcasts; there was just so much to share that just one blog could not share it all!
Exploring the Exhibition Floor: A World of Possibilities
The sheer expanse of the exhibition area was awe-inspiring. There were tons to explore, interact with, and discover booth after booth. There wasn’t a singular theme that dominated the exhibit floor, and I loved it. It allowed me to take in the knowledge of each and add our Pharmacy Badass lens to each exhibitor; how will this raise profits?
Although no true theme stood out amid the sea of products and services, one tried and true lesson stood out: even seemingly familiar independent pharmacy offerings like the humble greeting card can become a source of excitement and revenue with a little outside-the-box thinking and a well-executed strategy.
Exhibitors that Ignited Innovation
Numerous exhibitors left an indelible mark on my experience, each offering a unique perspective on the ever-evolving pharmacy landscape to get my creative juices flowing! Some initial stand-out ideas were:
Diversity is a fantastic way to gain new patients and an excellent way to speak to your patients already walking through your door. Dr. Faast often talks about connecting greatly with the Hispanic population in her first pharmacy by simply carrying Hispanic OTCs. This small gesture made her Hispanic patients feel welcomed and, more importantly, valued!
I was reminded that this theme could set your pharmacy apart from OTCs to hair care and beauty products. Don’t know where to start? I get it, but don’t be afraid to jump right in. This is an excellent opportunity to research and ask questions about which products your patients want to see in your pharmacy. Taking a poll either in your store or via social media is an excellent place to start.
2. Sexual Health:
Men’s sexual health has been a popular topic in independent pharmacies for some time now, and for good reason, but when it comes to women’s sexual health, we often do not look past hormones.
Do not get me wrong, hormones are important, but thinking a few steps further, we can dive deeper into this topic for both men and women on this once way too taboo subject for the front end of your pharmacy. In chatting with a variety of sexual health exhibitors, it seems the sexual health industry has grown up. Everything from awesome education to beautiful packaging and truly innovative products can be a winner for your patients.
Speaking of winners… don’t discount the fun marketing that can be done with these products too! Stopping into the Satisfyer booth, I was not uncomfortable with the products or the very frank conversations; they were fantastic in speaking about a very sensitive topic and have training for you and your staff! I loved that, and I even won a vibrator!! Now, that is something that I have never won or thought about winning, which reminded me of my first point, thinking outside the box and a well-executed strategy can make sexual health a profit winner!
3. Streamlined Workflows for Success:
It is no secret that workflow is critical in independent pharmacies, and the industry is listening. I met with companies on a mission trying to perfect everything from prescription transferring between pharmacies through a platform that takes the guesswork and frustration out of waiting to transfer your patient’s prescriptions…. even those jerk stores that will remain nameless! Bag systems that make will call to restock and everything in between easy peasy. The emphasis on optimizing workflows showcased the industry’s commitment to delivering better patient care is exciting, and I can not wait to share these deep dives!
4. Children’s Health:
Again, Children’s products are nothing seemingly revolutionary here; however, a lice vacuum that takes care of this age-old problem without chemicals and won’t hurt the child’s hair will be a winner in your pharmacy. Neti Pot type devices designed specifically for little ones, probiotics for all ages to assist with everything from colic in babies to a balanced microbiome to support older children’s immune to keep away those pesky school cooties!
Children’s products were vast– lotions, supplements, and hair care products; these innovations underscored the importance of catering to diverse patient needs, from the very young to the young at heart and the momma bears that care for them.
5. TikTok Stars in the Spotlight:
Engaging with exhibitors like Guru Nanada, whose TikTok-savvy founder has captivated his very large TikTok audience, and the eagerness that folks have the desire to take their health seriously and in their own hands. Check out their TikTok HERE!
It was great learning about the impact of social media on the Guru Nanada brand and the bottom line of their business. Their success story served as a reminder of the power of platforms like TikTok in driving growth and brand recognition. If you have not taken the plunge of sharing your awesomeness on social media, now is the time. You know the saying… When is the best time to plant a tree? The best time was ten years ago; the 2nd best day is TODAY!
6. Front-End Brilliance:
From OTC products to lotions and potions, makeup, fragrance, socks, jewelry, and on and on, the items designed to add pizzazz and sales were endless! We have all seen and tried these awesome, cool items. Some are huge hits for a season or two, and some will fail. Reminding me that your front end is not the place to let these items sit, not merchandised, marketed, or managed. Managed is the keyword.
What is your front-end strategy? Do you have a standard operation policy (SOP) for each new item coming into your pharmacy?
- How will it be marketed?
- Does this need physical marketing like self-talkers, bag stuffers, or even buttons or shirts for your staff to wear?
- Where is the pharmacy, shall it be?
- Is it a seasonal item that deserves an end cap to move fast or a tried and true item that will live in the toothpaste aisle?
Managing your front end can be a game-changer for your front-end strategy for capturing customer attention and boosting sales.
Engaging with Exhibitors: Unlocking Insights
I was reminded that even though the big national pharmacies traditionally get a lot of attention at this event, most companies value independents and want to work with independents by offering the same type of discounts, dedicated support, the ability to keep low minimums, and the ability to ship direct to stores.
I look forward to sharing more of what I learned and diving deep into these products, services, and strategies with you in the coming weeks!
If you have questions about NACDS or the companies there, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.