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Retailer Pulse
Reduced pharmacy hours: Impact on patients AND your business strategies

Pharmacy retailers continue to see the role of the pharmacist expand through new prescribing rights, delivery of new services like point-of-care testing and vaccinations, and new collaborative practice agreements to provide broader care. Yet, at the same time, continuing labor shortages have forced large chains and independents to reduce their pharmacy operating hours. This March, both CVS and Walmart are either cutting or shifting the hours their pharmacies operate due to the continuing labor shortage; Walgreens also previously reduced pharmacy hours, and many local independent pharmacies are also responding with limited hours.

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Patients will now have a shorter window of time to pick up prescriptions and receive other pharmacist services at their chosen, most convenient location. And they will likely experience longer wait times when they are able to access.

 

But prescription drug access isn’t the only challenge. Limited pharmacy hours could affect many patients and consumers, from patients with diabetes who need to immediately obtain test strips and glucose meters, to parents with a sick child who need to fill a prescription and pick up an over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducer in the evening, to allergy sufferers whose pseudoephedrine-containing medicine is available only behind the counter. In addition, time will be more limited to speak to a pharmacist regarding OTC  solutions for other concerns such as pains, first aid and digestive health questions.

 

OTC, health and beauty and CPG product manufacturers should be prepared to adjust business strategies with a goal of continuing to provide seamless buying experiences for within these new parameters. This changing environment requires careful assessment and challenging strategic decisions. Here are some things to consider:

  • Pharmacists are the country’s most trusted drug therapy experts and can uniquely support patients along their healthcare journeys. How is your retail pharmacy partner maintaining this competitive edge despite more limited accessibility?

  • Are you and your retail partner communicating clear alternatives for the consumer/patient when pharmacy access is an issue, so that a positive buying experience is maintained?

  • How can you take more of an omnichannel approach to the consumer/patient health journey, leveraging new pharmacy healthcare platforms and retail media network data?

  • How can you partner with the retailer to provide a more seamless consumer/patient experience?

  • When planning channel strategies, are you evaluating the potential impact of Amazon and other online subscription services in this new environment?

  • Recognizing the convergence of physical and digital retail commerce to satisfy consumer demand for low-cost, convenient care options, Walgreens, Walmart Health and CVS Health continue to ramp up their investments in digital commerce. How can you best tap into these offerings to provide a seamless shopping experience for your consumers?

  • How are you adjusting inventory, pricing and other strategies in response to these changes?

  • Should we be rethinking planograms for products currently available behind the counter due to shrinkage concerns, as opposed to regulatory mandates?

  • How can you better use data to optimally engage, improve the customer experience and power impactful rewards programs?

  • Where can we continue to innovate in the self-care area, for example, with devices like continuous glucose monitors or pulse oximeters, digital scales, at-home testing kits?

For more insights, contact:
Bill Bergin, Executive Vice President, Business Development & Client Lead:

bill.bergin@mpgllc.com

A former executive with Rite Aid for many years, he joined MPG after retiring from his position as Group Vice President of Health and Beauty. He is credited by Rite Aid executive leadership for his strong leadership and successful merchandising innovations that made many of Rite Aid’s key health and beauty categories much easier to shop; and is known in the industry for developing highly productive collaborative relationships with suppliers and developing successful merchandising innovations. His extensive experience also includes American Stores (Osco Drug, Sav-On Drug, and Jewel, Lucky, and Acme food stores).

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