December 18, 2021

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

* Gabe's Tips: *

The calm before the storm

We are about to experience the perfect storm; the collision of holiday shopping, a surge in vaccines and the confusion of resetting of patients' deductibles come the 1st of the new year. Dealing with all this will leave little time to maintain the front end. Today, before the storm, boost the inventory by threefold of your best-selling products in the categories of cough & cold, pain relief, immune boosters, thermometers, and supplements. This will reduce the possibility of disappointed customers and will be a buffer for future outs due to the supply chain. Do it now.

Plan for tomorrow today

On Tuesday the 21st, plan your after Christmas sale. Decide what is going to be on sale and for what discount. Have sale signs ready to go up as soon as you have finished taking inventory of your holiday items. Also, decide when you are going to end the sale! Do not drag the sale past January 8, 2022.

What's your Christmas sale wish?

Decide what your Christmas sale goal is. Is it to squeeze out some profit or to quickly liquidate product to make room for the next holiday season? If you are looking to liquidate quickly, instead of a 50% off sale, host a "buy one and get one free sale" If someone complains that they want only one, then it's your call. Either sell the one at 25% off or be a super nice person and offer one at 50% off. Around January 5, you may want to consider "buy one and get two free."

Four-sight for the new year

To make the right decisions for next year, you will need to take four inventories. The 1st inventory should be done early December 27 before anything is sold at sale price. This inventory will tell the true story of how successful your holiday seasonal was. The 2nd inventory should be done once the sale is over. Inventory three is to note the merchandise that will be saved for next year. And inventory four is a tally of what has not sold, will not be saved, and will be donated. Accurate inventories are buyers' crystal balls in seeing the future.

Glorious gifts

Customers are always looking for what's new in the gift department. Knowing this, every January as a former GM, I instructed each store manager to reinvent the Gift Department. This meant completely remerchandising the category and, in some cases, relocating the entire department along with creating a new look. Each merchandiser was to place two dozen ¾" by 2" by 1/2" free-standing acrylic plaques that read "NEW ITEM!" next to the most recent items we had received. It was a lot of work, but it paid off with a measurable boost in sales, a timely increase in revenue, and negating any need to consider putting the gifts on sale. My old boss taught me many things. One was "Anybody can put gifts on sale and lose margin; very few can create sales and maintain full margin." Congratulations if you are one of the few!

P.S. You still have time to download the Christmas worksheet.

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. 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.

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