Magazine article Drug Topics

It's Time to Build the Front End: NACDS

Magazine article Drug Topics

It's Time to Build the Front End: NACDS

Article excerpt

Chain drugstores should concentrate on building a relationship with customers in the front end of the store. So said David W. Bernauer, chairman of Walgreen Co. and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Speaking to a packed room at a town hall meeting at the NACDS Marketplace, held recently in Boston, Bernauer said, "Many retail executives don't relate to how important the front end is to our pharmacy business. There are not very many people who come into our stores to get a prescription who haven't shopped the front end of the store. Start building that relationship with the customer in the front of the store. While the back end - the pharmacy - is growing faster than the front end for virtually every retailer, that doesn't change the fact that the front end is profitable and is so important to building pharmacy business."

Bernauer went on to say that once pharmacies gain a pharmacy customer, that patron is likely to return to buy more items from the front end and become a more loyal customer. "There's a synergy there that works very well for drugstores and makes them unique vehicles," he said. "Supermarkets have figured that out. Once they get their pharmacy going, their health and beauty care [HBC] categories do much better."

Take the offense

David Van Howe, VP of purchasing for Walgreens, reiterated the importance of focusing on the front end. "The front end is a very important piece of what we do, and it's a big piece of the profit picture of our future." Acknowledging that there are challenges in growing the front end, Van Howe cited the recent regulation that required pharmacies to place pseudoephedrine behind the counter. "We have dextromethorphan looming out there as well as potential state, local, and national legislation on nonprescription drugs and vitamins. Let's take an offensive, rather than a defensive, approach," he urged.

In closing, Van Howe said, "It's a big challenge growing the front end at the same rate as the pharmacy. …

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