Consumers can find drug store merchandise almost anywhere these days, so unless your pharmacy is the only game in town, it’s a good idea to create an environment that sets your business apart from the competition.  Like you, consumers prefer to shop in a store that’s clean, comfortable, and easy to find their wanted items.  Your goal should be to provide this place.  Your clientele has a need to fill their prescriptions.  Why not capitalize on that need?  Just putting up rows of shelves stocked with pharmacy essentials will present sales, but you may be missing out on countless more that walk out your door forever.  Done right and you will attract new customers, keep them coming back, and maximize your sales. That’s where the elements of design come into play.  A well-designed store will make your business more consumer-friendly and a lot more profitable.

Pharmacy Lab Efficiency (Part 4)

Having your pharmacy lab laid out efficiently can make the difference between your customers have a positive, professional experience or one that’s chaotic and leaves them disgruntled with a long wait ahead of them. The most effective lab design flow chart is as follows:

Customer Drop-Off > Data Entry > Filling > Verification > Will Call/Customer
Drop-Off & Pick-Up- A lot of pharmacists think there should be a separate drop off and pick up area, but we have found this doesn’t always work. It can be confusing to the customer and inefficient for you and your staff. The largest chain drug stores tried to force their customers to do this, but eventually gave up, and now customers are back to dropping off and paying at the same counter.

The two most popular methods are the “buffer counter” and “direct interaction.” If your store has the room, a buffer counter may be the way to go. It keeps the customers separated away from the pharmacy counter and gives the lab area a little more privacy. It provides additional space to display security merchandise behind the service counter, displays impulse items below the service counter, and possibly provides for a less expensive clerk to man it instead of a tech.

In a smaller store, the direct approach, where the service counter is integrated into the lab, might work better. It takes up less room and leaves more space for the lab and/or for otcs. It gives you a more intimate interaction with the customer and may enable fewer employees. However, it may create distractions from filling having the customer so close.

Which method is best depends on the size of your store and what you feel works best for your particular style, demographics, and workflow.

Data Entry>Filling>Verification-
Pharmacy counters should be 30” deep to accommodate data entry and filling needs and be made of durable materials that are easily cleaned. Traditional thought specifies 8’l of the counter for Rx filling and another 7’l for each additional workstation. Fast-moving drugs should be on speed shelves above the work counter or on bottle bay end units for quick, easy access. Another consideration is having enough drug storage space. You should be using the most efficient 16”w storage trays that provide approximately 30% more lineal feet of storage in the same footprint as the old-style bottle bays.

Once the prescription has been counted and filled it should flow to a central point for verification, then to the customer pick up for check out or will call storage.

Will Call-
The ready script area should be organized, easily accessible, and secure (for HIPAA compliance) for pick up. The most common ways to organize this area are in bins, baskets, or the hanging bag system. These can be behind the buffer counter or on shelving within the pharmacy.

Finally, a consultation area needs to be provided that offers customers some privacy in case they have questions about their medication. This can be in the form of a separate counter away from the checkout area or a simple walk-up window off of the pharmacy. If the space is available, a private room is recommended. This can be used for immunizations and other special services that you might offer now or in the future, such as diabetes or weight management.

Going through the four parts of this outline should help you identify your store’s design strengths and weaknesses.  Regardless of what you find, learn to emphasize your company’s strong points.  You and your competition have access to the same merchandise, so the way you display your products and services is what can give you the edge.  You’re a specialty retailer with a niche market that has great growth potential for the years ahead.  Investing in the look and design of your store doesn’t cost, it pays.

Contact us today to talk about how we can improve your store and your bottom line…