Whether it’s the first date, first day of work, or first steps in a pharmacy, first impressions matter.

In each situation, you have one shot to make a good impression — to turn a stranger into a significant other, a new coworker into a colleague, or a first-time visitor into a lifelong patient. With so much on the line, you decide to try to put your best foot forward. You do your research, rehearse the right lines, and tack on a smile.


Out on a date, you make casual conversation and share funny stories. In the office, you offer to help out and take a load off your coworkers. And, in your pharmacy, you invest in your front-end so that you can see more patients in your front door.


That’s right: when it comes to the world of pharmacy, your front-end is your one chance to make (or break) the first impression. A good front-end can encourage customers to check out your services, scan your shelves, and start doing business with you. A bad front-end, though, can send customers out as quickly as they came in.


That’s why it’s more important than ever to invest in your first impression — and invest in your front-end.


A good front-end should:


  • Create a warm, welcoming environment
  • Put profitable items on display
  • Boost non-prescription sales
  • Contribute to a positive customer experience
  • Turn a new visitor into a loyal customer


If you’re looking to make your front-end more appealing and make a positive first impression, follow these 7 steps. Your patients (and your profits) will thank you.



1. Take Stock of Your Space

Before you can kickstart your own front-end overhaul, you have to take stock of the state of your pharmacy. Using your intuition and input from others, decide what’s working for you, and, more importantly, what’s not. Pay attention to how you use space: where you use it, where you waste it, and where you neglect it.


Then, with this information, start brainstorming how you can optimize your space. Maybe that means bringing in new fixtures, getting rid of old supplies, or investing in new signage. Draft up a blueprint of what you want to do.

Then, consider the time and money you’re willing to invest in your front-end. With this information, you can get ready to get your plan going.




2. Declutter and Deep Clean

Start with the space you have. Even if your front-end is well-maintained, you can probably afford to throw out a few items and wipe down a few surfaces to spruce it up.


First, start by decluttering old and unnecessary items. Whether or not you want to admit it, some items are simply taking up space. If you’re going to optimize your area, you have to be willing to give them the boot.

Decide what you should keep and what you shouldn’t by pulling reports from your POS system. See what your customers are buying (and what they aren’t). Whatever your lowest-selling and least profitable items are, kick them to the curb. At the same time, take note of best-selling items and start strategizing how you can put them on display later.


Next, you can move to deep cleaning your front end. There’s nothing that hits the refresh button quite like a clean space. As you start cleaning, make sure that you:


  • Wipe down your windows — because there’s nothing worse than smudged glass
  • Wipe down counters, trim, and registers
  • Dust your shelving and products
  • Sweep your entryway — and don’t forget the corners!
  • Clean off light fixtures
  • Wipe down equipment
  • Bring in a lightly-scented room spray or essential oil diffuser — try lavender or eucalyptus for a relaxing feel
  • Take down old flyers and throw out old signage



3. Design a New Layout

With a cleaner, simpler store, you can start bringing your new layout to life.

Reference back to the blueprint you drew up for your pharmacy and start rearranging your items to match. The layout of your pharmacy should be simple, spacious, and easy for customers to navigate. Your aisles should be wide and open; your stations should be simple to find.


With better use of your space, you can create a better customer experience. 


When it comes to your front-end, take advantage of high-traffic areas — as they can give you more exposure and make more sales. High-traffic areas are typically around the prescription counters and checkout counters. So, for your layout, consider putting a well-placed display around the cash register, or hanging up a new sign by the counter.


If you give your customers something to buzz about, you’ll make more front-end sales.


4. Bring in New Displays

Start bringing your layout to life with the help of new displays and storage solutions.

New displays can help you merchandise your items in a more visually appealing, easily accessible way. Displays come in all shapes and sizes: from standalone shelves to gondolas to window displays and more. Depending on the space that you have available, you can use one kind of display or invest in a few different ones.


Regardless of how you choose to do it, make sure that you place your displays in high-traffic areas, where customers can easily see and touch the items on sale.


Follow a few more best practices to get the best results:


  • Choose a theme for each display, and stick to that theme
  • Switch out displays every few weeks to add variety
  • Don’t forget about seasonal displays, which can boost holiday spirit
  • Don’t overload each display with items: in this case, less is more


If you’re looking to learn more about building great displays, check out NCPA’s top 10 guidelines.



5. Add New Profitable Products

As you start adding products to your displays — including OTC items and merchandise — you may find it helpful to start with a select few and then slowly expand. Over time, you can see what works and adjust your items accordingly. Instead of offering everything, you may want to specialize in something (or a few things).


So what items should you offer?


According to Hamacher Research Group (HRG), the most profitable front-end items are:


  • Cold and allergy medications
  • Pain relief OTC items
  • First aid/wound care
  • Digestive health
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Home health care
  • Eye/ear care
  • Skincare


No matter which ones you pick, though, you’ll probably bring in a great profit margin. HRG reports that, “The front-end’s average gross margin is 38 percent. In contrast, the total store average gross margin is 23 percent, including the prescription department.”


A few other front-end fun facts you may want to consider:


  • Front-end sales are highest in the month of October
  • Sales are highest on Fridays (followed by Tuesday)
  • The busiest time of day for sales is 11 AM-12 PM



6. Invest in Design & Decor

Change up the feel of your pharmacy by changing the look of your pharmacy. Design and decor are among the most important parts of making your front-end more appealing. Try any of these design suggestions to take your pharmacy to the next level:


  • Invest in a new logo
  • Introduce a new color scheme
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls
  • Hang up a new exterior sign
  • Bring in new interior signs that advertise your services
  • Bring in plants to spruce up the space
  • Buy bright, warm-lit lights
  • Hang up photos from the community for a more personal look and feel
  • Play contemporary overhead music


To get some design inspiration, check out the winners of NCPA’s NICE Awards — which recognizes the best in community pharmacy branding and marketing.



7. Share All Your Hard Work

After putting the finishing touches on your front-end, share all your hard work with your patients. Use your website, social media platforms, and local ads to let patients know that you’ve made some changes — and give them a reason to come check it out for themselves. As an added boost, consider hosting a store-wide sale or giveaway after you finish up. It will make patients feel more welcomed and appreciated.


Your front-end will speak for itself.


Additional Resources

NCPA Tips for Maximizing Front-End

NCPA Front-End Quick Tips / One-Pager Tips

NCPA Front-End Photo Galleries

NCPA Front-End Profit Makers Email List

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