March 16, 2019

News, products, marketing and merchandising tips for the
front end of community pharmacies

* TIPS From NCPA's Front-End Guru, Gabe Trahan *

"Why don't you buy two, just in case you sell one?"

I was 16 years old when I first heard that from a new regional supervisor who was "teaching" the manager of the hardware store where I worked. The manager sheepishly replied: "It's always worked well for this store, but I'll order more." The supervisor came back with "You can't count lost sales if you're not looking for them." (Then the meeting was moved to the backroom.) Responsibly buying more to sell more is a lesson that many of us need to be reminded of at times.

Interest Rates vs. Deal Discounts

Here is just one more reason to be more aggressive in your buying habits. The national average interest rate on savings accounts currently stands at 1.44% annual percentage yield. Trade show specials, monthly deals at, one-time vendor direct purchase deals and specials from your wholesaler will range anywhere from 5% to 25%, that represents a much better return on your dollar. So, why not buy two deals instead of one? If it is a seasonal item that you know you will sell many more than what the deal includes, buy more than one. Keep in mind a special that offers free freight alone can be savings from 10% to over 15% which is a whole lot better than 1.44%.

Take Maximum Advantage of Deal Opportunities

Many wholesalers offer their members a sales circular or sales flyer for either in-store sales promotion or direct mail. These promotions typically feature top selling items in the OTC departments, products that you sell well at the regular price. The wholesale buying opportunities for these products typically last for 30 to 45 days. Take advantage of the last few discount buying days by ordering for non-sale dates. Mark your calendar/planner to stock up on the items that sell well and offer a savings of over 1.44%.

"Keep my backrooms small and the bathrooms cold."

That was told to me long ago when I was drawing remodels and new stores floor plans for a man that owned 14 stores. He was kidding about the bathrooms, but not kidding about the backrooms. His reason for small backrooms was this; large backrooms are never organized, the storage room becomes a graveyard for product, and an empty spot in a backroom encourages overbuying. Nothing sells from the backroom!

How to not fill your backroom and still buy aggressively

Buy the deals, but first know where the product is going. When buying a deal in a display, always keep one display full and place the additional product on the shelves in its regular OTC category. When possible, double face the product in the OTC section – you will increase your chance of selling more of any product when it is double-faced. Stack high and watch it fly! If the product you purchased on deal comes in cases, then stack the case up against an end-cap panel and watch it sell. If you have the room, place the cases on a pallet and see what happens! Product stacked in cases or displayed on pallets gives the appearance that customers are buying by bulk and thus are saving money. If the product cannot be stacked then dedicate an end-cap for the product you bought on deal, do not feel that you need to put the items on sale, keep the savings! "People stop buying when their hands are full." Keep shopping baskets near pallets and endcaps. Buy to save, merchandise to sell.

* Front-End Marketplace Vendors of the Month *

TICK-Tock: This Deal Won't Last

Enjoy a 20% SAVINGS plus FREE freight when you order at least $120 of product from Ticks-N-All or Nantucket Spider, two of our newest Front-end Marketplace vendors. These brands offer all-natural tick and insect repellents that actually smell great and keep your customers and their pets bite-free. Stock up and merchandise on the register counter and with sun care products.

* More from the Daily Planning Guide *

What sold for St. Patrick's Day?

Remember to evaluate sales on your St. Patrick's Day products and make/write down decisions for next year while it is fresh on your mind. Folks that use NCPA's Daily Pharmacy Planning Guide were reminded with tips like this every day. This year's version of our useful guide full of daily tips and reminders is still available through the NCPA Bookstore.

Front End Resources for NCPA Members

Being a member of NCPA means you have access to a treasure trove of helpful hints, tips, and resources to make your front end more profitable! Download One-Pager Tips on a variety of topics. Gabe typically posts a tip once or twice a day on his Twitter account — if you're on Twitter, give him a follow at @NCPAGabe. You can also find tips in Gabe's monthly column in America's Pharmacist. The Overhaul of Fame galleries contain hundreds of photos to inspire you, from effective signs to successful end-caps and everything in between. Finally, you and your staff can access several staff training videos that will help you take an objective view of your store, both inside and out!

This wealth of knowledge is due to the fantastic photos, ideas, and suggestions we receive every day from NCPA members like you. Drop him a line at with your questions, photos, best advice, and recommendations. What's selling well in your store? Let us know.

"Profit Makers" is produced by NCPA in collaboration with Drug Store News

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