Too much choice is the enemy of sales

Learning how to say “No” to some suppliers’ products is an important skill for your retail staff. There are far too many different products stocked in most pharmacies – and more than 30% of retail stock is “dead” – i.e. hasn’t sold for 6 months or more.


Many pharmacy staff believe they should be carrying every available OTC product in an attempt to please all customers – but there are now a huge number of suppliers offering similar, competing products - making this a losing strategy. My advice is to implement a “3-2-1 rule”. You can carry a maximum of 3 different brands for any customer need, and where possible simplify this to just the best 1 or 2.


Too much choice is the enemy of sales, because it complicates the sales process. Stocking everything makes it more difficult for pharmacy staff to sell, and harder for customers to make their buying choices.


Too many products also reduces the visual merchandising impact of your retail shelves by making it impossible to display more facings of the key products.


Rather than this “supply-driven” approach to ranging OTC products, savvy modern-day retailers carefully “curate” their range so that they offer one or two top performing solutions for customer’s needs.



The science of Category Management has been perfected by the supermarket chains. They have strict rules that mean that they only range, display and sell the most profitable range of products in each retail category. Their goal is to optimise their return-on-investment in stock while also maximising customer satisfaction.


We call this “demand-driven” retailing – because it is all about taking a scientific approach to selecting an optimal product range to satisfy customers, in a partnership with key suppliers. When carried out to perfection in your pharmacy, your curated range becomes a point-of-difference that helps you to stand out from the discounters and supermarkets.


Your selected range can become an “OTC product formulary’ for your pharmacy that you can use as a sales training guide for all staff.


Follow these steps to improve your retail product selections:

1. Identify your retail Categories and Sub-Categories

2. Use sales data to select the best sellers for each “customer need” (sub-category) plus 1 or 2 alternatives

3. Allocate the right space and the best location for each category

4. Merchandise your product range with maximum facings of top sellers at eye-level

5. Ensure every category has clear signage

6. Train staff on your chosen product solutions so that they can confidently recommend them to customers.


Selecting and managing your product range is one of the key decisions for good retailing. Getting the art and science of category management right will enhance your pharmacy’s professional image.


See the great results from implementing an OTC Formulary at Sanders Pharmacy in Te Awamutu here: https://www.thepharmacycoop.nz/blog/case-study-sanders-pharmacy-proves-that-less-is-more


This article was first published in the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand Contact newsletter, July 2019.

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