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Marie Leeney’s 6 tips to transform your pharmacy’s front shop

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Marie Leeney of Remedy’sRx in Espanola, Ont. has witnessed the transformation of her front shop over a three decade-long career in community pharmacy.

 

By Mike Boivin BSc.Phm.

Illustration by Martin Bregman

“Originally, we were one of only two retailers in town that sold pharmacy items,” says the front-store manager. “Our small community went from two pharmacies to four in the last few years. This created incredible competition for almost every product on our shelves.”

With many previously popular items now sold at other retailers, Marie knew she needed to differentiate her front shop from other pharmacy competitors in the region.

When Remedy’sRx purchased the pharmacy four years ago, a point of sale (POS) system was introduced. “You can imagine we were all a bit concerned about putting in this technology. I had been here for over 30 years, and we have several other people who had been here for almost the same amount of time. We were not used to seeing this type of change.”

Despite her initial concerns, Marie has become one of POS’s biggest supporters. She uses it almost every day to evaluate and plan her front shop, and she has found it plays a role in improving customer service.

Although many pharmacies use their POS system mainly as a way to ensure proper pricing and sales of their OTCs, Marie was not satisfied with knowing only the basics. “I played around with the POS system, and I continue to learn more of its different functions. I originally just ran the basic reports to track daily sales and transactions, but now I run reports to help me analyze the different parts of the business.”

The POS system not only automates a variety of functions such as shipping and receiving, cost adjustments for sales, tracking of sales and profit, but much more.

“I can view every transaction in the pharmacy; I know what people are buying, when they’re buying and how much they are buying,” says Marie, who knows this information is crucial from a customer service perspective and for planning and analyzing.

“Occasionally clients have questioned a debit or credit transaction in our store. I not only can verify the transaction but I can tell them the exact date, time and products purchased in just a matter of minutes. This provides incredible customer service and saves me time.”

Marie also uses the POS to adjust inventory to reflect seasonal variations in the business, especially during the busy summer cottage period. She also regularly runs reports to gauge the effectiveness of flyers and sales on the products. All of this has turned her into a POS believer.

Marie Leeney’s top POS takeaways

  1. Play around with it. “Many people are worried they are going to screw things up if they do something different. The most interesting reports and functions I found were through exploring my POS.”
  2. Use it for more than just tracking sales. “You can use the system for staff and clients to track their purchases and payments, and it simplifies the entire accounting process.”
  3. Think of it as a tool in the toolbox. Marie can’t be at the pharmacy every minute, so she can automate things like when a sale starts and stops. “I am never worried that we are going to miss a sale or overcharge a client.”
  4. The P in POS should stand for planning. “I use the system to plan for sales and inventory. I can run reports and plan for increased or decreased sales of different categories. These reports, combined with my years of experience, ensure I don’t under- or over-order inventory.”
  5. Capture transactions. “You will not only know what people are buying but also when they are buying. This allows me to adjust my staffing to match the busiest times in the pharmacy.”
  6. Just do it. Marie had been doing the same job for a long time before POS entered her life. Instead of resisting change, she embraced it. “Once you have a POS system, you will never want to go back. I can have real-time information on the business which allows me to plan for change versus always reacting to it.”