SAN DIEGO - PrairieStone Pharmacy, Minneapolis, has experienced an unexpected benefit of having its highly automated pharmacy inside of supermarkets: high crossover sales of related health and beauty care products, especially those in the over-the-counter categories.
When PrairieStone's business model originated, crossover sales were not one of the company's main objectives; however, it has become a noticeable benefit, said Marvin Richardson, president and chief executive officer of the leased-space operator, which has 28 pharmacies in stores of Lund, Byerly's and D&W. He spoke at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Ninth Annual Forum, which preceded the group's Pharmacy & Technology Conference held here last week.
"Our primary objective was not cost reduction but to put the pharmacist close to the customer without ever having to turn their back to take a product off the shelf and dispense it," Richardson said.
The second objective was to improve quality assurance, Richardson said.
While those objectives were set in place, the stores saw "a dramatic increase in over-the-counter HBC sales because the pharmacist is able to step out from behind the counter," he said.
On average, the lift in OTC HBC sales for one retail store with an automated pharmacy was $800,000 in one year, according to a chart shown during the session.
"The Food Marketing Institute has found that a pharmacy customer who fills prescriptions inside a supermarket pharmacy will spend an average of $989 per year in the store, not including prescriptions," Richardson said.
Another unexpected benefit was in attracting professionals. "Pharmacists like the model and will come in because they are interested in working for us," he said.
PrairieStone's 416-square-foot in-store pharmacies turn about 400-600 prescriptions a day, he said.
"Prescription volume is the oxygen of our companies," said Charles Goodall, divisional vice president of pharmacy technology services for Walgreen Co, Deerfield, Ill., at the forum. "If we give our pharmacists something additional to do, we have to take something away," he said of automation technology.
Right now, in a pharmacist's mind, "taking care of the patient means to fill their prescription before someone complains," Goodall said. "We need to utilize new pharmacy layouts and workflow technology that can help save time."
When considering layout, the possibility for a higher number of fills in the future needs to be kept in mind, Richardson said. "Our configurations are all modular, so as volumes grow we can increase our technology."