Magazine article Drug Topics

With Super D under Its Belt, USA Drug Turns to Integration

Magazine article Drug Topics

With Super D under Its Belt, USA Drug Turns to Integration

Article excerpt

Now that USA Drug, a 15-store regional chain headquartered in Pine Bluff, Ark., has purchased Memphis' 87-store Super D Drugs, the challenge president Steve LaFrance faces is to provide big-chain benefits while maintaining smallchain service.

LaFrance traces USA Drug's highquality customer service not to the hiring or the training process but to "the environment of the company. Our employees know that they're to speak to customers, that they're to ask them if they can help them and then take them to the shelves and show them where things are. It's just the way it is here." Of course, he added, "we were a small company, and I guess it was very easy to accomplish that environment with 15 stores."

Can the company continue this customer-friendly philosophy within an environment that suddenly finds itself nearly six times its original size? "Obviously, that's a question we're asking ourselves," LaFrance said. "But it won't be because of lack of zeal. I honestly believe that Super D had a lot of that same type of inner being itself. It did very well with its customers also, and I loved that about it."

In addition to special customer service, LaFrance sees private-label programs, electronic inventory systems, and presentation as key toward drugstore survival in the current marketplace. His explanation for USA Drug's success: "If you saw our stores, you would see the cleanest stores in America. You'd see the best-merchandised stores. We have wide, deep selections of all drugstore-type items, and our prices are comparable to those of discount-type stores. We did have a very sophisticated warehousing system, but not enough stores for it. We now have enough stores to enhance our productivity at our warehouse. We'll have POS systems that will reorder all the goods-the OTC, frontend, and pharmaceuticals. Also, we'll have an electronic invoicing system that will eliminate all paperwork between warehouse and stores, so it's going to be much easier for our employees." He expects all systems to be installed by Jan. 31,1998.

One difference between USA Drug and Super D is their respective privatelabeling positions. The original 1 5 USA Drug had more than 650 items in its private-label program, compared with Super D's 200. …

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