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Get the design of your pharmacy right

Tuesday 04 April 2017, 4:27PM
Get the design of your pharmacy right

The approach to getting your pharmacy layout right is like a first date, according to one expert - make the customer feel comfortable, use good lighting and avoid common traps.

Mark Greenland, from retail design company InDesign, says putting customers at ease and steering clear of common layout mistakes are a path to capturing maximum sales and increasing ­customer loyalty.  

Mr Greenland has designed over 450 pharmacies in New Zealand, and it is a retail space he is passionate about. 

"It can be as simple as creating an environment that is comfortable and relaxing to make customers feel they can browse," says Mr Greenland. 

One pharmacy he helped design was Crisp's Pharmacy in Christchurch, where patients can sit while they wait for their prescription at a dining-style "green table". 

Here, they can chat to each other, watch educational information on the TV screen, or just take a load off and enjoy a cup of tea as they wait for their medicine. 

"It's a wonderful area of patient interaction, between themselves, and between us and them if we need to talk them through their medications," says owner Karen Crisp, who has even hosted the occasional high tea at the green table. 

Mr Greenland says pharmacies are often the heart of the community, and creating a comfortable environment such as Mrs Crisp's is great for putting customers at ease. Though he does warn against too large a waiting area if it congests the back of the store.  

Mrs Crisp is not the only one to have utilised her retail space with a bit of flair. Pharmacist Aki Tominari has in his pharmacy a full wall made of Scandinavian moss, which he installed to create a different atmosphere from other pharmacies. 

"The minute customers come in they are breathing better air and they already feel better," he says of the wall, which filters the air and acts as a moisture absorber, and has some customers returning just to see it.

Layout is more than just making your customers feel welcome, however; using some basic design principals can make a big difference to the retail potential of your pharmacy, according to Mr Greenland.   

Pharmacies are almost unique in the retail world as they capture a customer while they wait for their prescription. It is important to avoid a stagnant shop floor that leaves customers staring at the hairbrushes as they wait. 

Mr Greenland says pharmacies have a habit of overcrowding the dispensary counter and having fixtures that point towards it, and says pharmacists should declutter so as not to confuse customers. 

"Good flow is key," he says, explaining that placing core products on the adjacent walls will draw customers away from the front counter and encourage them to browse the main shelves. 

He says this "flow" also applies to the dispensary.

"One-directional flow will make the dispensary more efficient," he says, "and this frees up the pharmacist for more time on the shop floor, and they really are the best salesperson."

Antidote pharmacies in Dunedin have the dispensary counter in the middle of their stores, giving the customers more access to the pharmacist, and there are iPads dotted around for customers to read up on products and ­promotions. 

Their approach is minimalistic, and co-owner Lorealle Lam says their design aims to "turn it into a happy place, that doesn't feel like a pharmacy."

Mr Greenland says strong merchandising makes a big difference. "It's important to keep track of what sells and what doesn't for your customer base, and to use your wall space to merchandise what does sell," he says.

In terms of colour schemes, neutral tones have the best staying power. As tempting as the fuchsia may be, Mr Greenland says leave the bright colours for accenting features, using them to tie into your shop's branding. 

"Green for us is healthy, positive imagery," says Mrs Crisp of her table, which she says embodies their holistic approach. 

Mr Greenland sheds some light on LEDs. "So many pharmacies don't use enough lighting," he says, and advises avoiding fancy fixtures and sticking with enough regular LED fixtures to keep your pharmacy well lit.GM

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