Editor‘s note: A brave new world
This year could be the most important year for retail since, well, since all the way back in 2017.
At the outset, it is certainly shaping up that way, especially with a host of major retailers looking to do all they can to compete with Amazon and its growing online presence, not to mention taking a few points away from each other.
Let’s just take a look at some of the recent events. As we discuss in our cover story this month, CVS Health is buying Aetna to become a larger player in the healthcare market. Target is buying Shipt, a same-day delivery service that company officials believe will give them a chance to better compete online, for a cool $550 million. Walmart is buying just about everything in sight to give the company all the ammunition possible to compete digitally.
Expect more of the same this year.
In fact, the merger/acquisition activity should kick up a bit in 2018 as the larger merchants continue to try to solidify their online presence with consumers, and some other players, including Kroger, Macy’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Toys ‘R Us, seek ways to stay relevant in this changing world of retail.
Why now? Several reasons, say the experts. One is that as the fear of Amazon taking over all of retail subsides and the reality that it is most definitely a major force in the industry takes hold, other retailers are beginning to make sensible and logical moves to compete. The second, some say, is that the money is available for retailers to make these moves, which means investors are willing to bet that certain smart, well-thought out moves will pay off for these retailers over both the short and long terms.
The road map exists. When Walmart was gobbling up market share in the mass and food retail segments in the 1990s and many industry observers feared the sky was falling for the rest of the industry, sensible operators took the right steps to establish their own niches in the marketplace. The result was mass casualties among the merchants who did not change, and a robust retail environment for those who did.
It is going to happen again, and the next 12 months will go a long way in determining which retailers have the foresight — and the intestinal fortitude — to take the right steps to survive in a new age of retailing.
Walmart, CVS and, perhaps, Target are taking steps to ensure not only their basic survival but their long-term success. Mistakes will happen and some money will be lost, but doing nothing is no longer an alternative in retail merchandising and marketing.
Yes, 2018 has all the makings of being a crucial year for retail. But it will not be any more crucial than 2017 was or 2019 will be. Welcome to a brave new world. Now go out and conquer it.
Enabling patient-facing care: Pharmacists at the top of their licenses
Pharmacists still are waiting for the handcuffs to come off. That’s the consensus of industry leaders who are frustrated with the challenges of getting reimbursements for a wider range of services these professionals can perform. It’s a topic at the center of enabling patient care in community-based pharmacy.
“We talk about pharmacists being able to practice at the top of their license,” said CVS Health executive vice president of retail pharmacy and supply chain Kevin Hourican.
“What’s disappointing is that the regulations sometimes significantly lag [with] what the customers actually want.”
He pointed to point-of-care testing as a key area where pharmacists could rise to their full potential.
“A patient could come to a 24-hour pharmacy when a doctor isn’t available to have tests completed. There would be prescriber authority to be able to write for antibiotics, for example, for a positive strep throat test.”
Further, pharmacists could play bigger roles in helping patients determine if they need cholesterol medications, or hypertension medications, he said.
“We believe the pharmacist can play an even more important role in this space,” he said, especially given the convenient locations for patients.
Hourican emphasized that the industry is collaborating to make progress on this goal.
“We are working with many industry partners and NACDS to help advance forward improvements to select regulations, so we can serve the communities and our patients more appropriately.”