CHANGES FOR PHARMACIES POST COVID-19.
Businesses are now starting to gradually re-open. This means that companies that have been closed for often several months such as non-food retail stores, bars and restaurants will gradually be opening their doors to a new post Covid-19 consumer.
I think everyone realises that the pandemic has affected society more than just the disruption of a few months indoors. Social distancing will not be disappearing overnight, and for some business’ restrictions may continue, or further rules may be imposed on top of those already in place to ensure that the virus does not re-emerge.
In restaurants for example the obligation to occupy every other table could be triggered, shops could be forced to sanitise trolleys and basket handles or dressing rooms and shelves twice a day. For the fashion and clothing outlets there are discussions of sanitising the garments after each test by customers. More generally, shop front of house areas will need to be equipped with floor signs, barriers and adhesive strips to manage the inevitable queues.
What about Pharmacies?
Pharmacies are one of the group of businesses that have remained open during the lockdown and helped to manage the spread of Covid-19 by introducing measures such as the use of sanitisers, provision of detergents and gloves at the entrance, masked staff, benches protected by plexiglass and staggered entrances.
As discussed, this is far from the end of this activity. When regulations are eased by the government these measures will need to still be in place and people will still be anxious of shopping and social contact, changing their shopping habits to suit. There will be more people about, but these numbers will still not recover to pre-pandemic levels for some time. Pharmacies will have to move with the times to make people feel more at ease in the shopping environment and push people away from just buying the essentials.
Pharmacists will need to pay attention to the layout and organisation of their pharmacies and ready the environment for a consumer who has not yet forgotten the epidemic and that appreciates those retailers that consider their security and wellbeing.
HOW WILL PHARMACY CHANGE POST COVID 19?
Which "hot spots" should the pharmacy be focusing on? And which components of the shopfitting can help pharmacies to maintain retail sales?
With the average pharmacy struggling with limited square footage, it will be challenging to implement social distancing whilst retaining retail sales and consumer engagement.
The implementation of modular layouts within pharmacies will allow for the quick re-configuration of displays according to the flow of customers and times of the day. For this reason pharmacists should be considering mobile display units, like gondolas on wheels that can be used as normal displays and triggers for impulse buy, while also working as queue management guides.
Retrofitting existing gondolas with wheels or adding new mobile units to the existing portfolio will likely become very valuable in protecting the revenue of pharmacies. Units can be easily moved by the pharmacist to achieve new layouts throughout the week and the day, optimising traffic in the store, showing off different products while ensuring social distancing.
Use of new full height and clever barriers.
The implementation of larger and more friendly plexiglass screens would help to maintain that one to one feel while keeping customers and staff safe. Instead of an impersonal, thick acrylic sheet bolted to the existing counter, the use of full height acrylic screens retains visibility for the medical professional and the customer.
Use of Digital.
Again, avoiding un-necessary contact, in-store digital interaction points could become popular. These would allow patients to independently collect the information they require without contact with a person. Providing access to basic information and advice would entice the individual to enter the pharmacy to get this. The screens could also be used to advertise services and products and deliver valuable consumer engagement.
Life Goes on.
Of course the irony of this situation is that the strategy over the last decades has been to break down the barriers, lower the counters, and become closer and more personal with customers. While the reimplementation of these barriers could be seen as restrictive to trade, the clever use of new solutions within the retail space in pharmacies can keep people confidently coming back.
If you have any feedback on this article or have any other ideas for either retailers or more specifcally pharmacists, then get in touch directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to talk to us about your options, in terms of safety and welfare products or shelving solutions then drop us a message below.