Expert Input on Successful Selling.
Drug Store News: Who should attend and why?
Kathy Steirly: From Walgreens’ perspective, everybody wants to find the newest, latest, greatest niche item, and when you’re dealing with an organization the size that some of the top retailers are today, it’s very confusing and very difficult getting in the door for the first time.
We are very excited to be able to partner with [NACDS] and to create what we’re calling the new vendor day action for people that have new products, perhaps they’re already in smaller regional retailers, or maybe they’re selling through television outlets and are trying to get into more distribution opportunities for brick and mortar.
It’s a huge opportunity for education because the first part of the day, the Walgreens day, will feature some short presentations from people inside the organization as it pertains to “How do I find the vendor Web site?” or “What can I expect from accounting?” and “How do I get information?”
DrSN: Will Walgreens.com be there as a buying force?
Steirly: We do have category managers for the Walgreens.com program specifically, and they cover their own assigned categories. They obviously work hand-in-hand with the purchasing category managers for the stores but it is a tremendous opportunity. We’ve had some really exciting success stories. We’ve actually started programs and products online only, and due to the success of those programs have since rolled them out throughout the stores.
DrSN: Is online the only opportunity for new vendors?
Steirly: We’re going to talk about a lot of different opportunities which would involve not only testing, but ways to get displays kind of “Walgreenized.” We call it our toolbox. Ways to test, ways to advertise, ways to introduce new products. That’s what we’re intending to cover during the morning session on the Walgreens day.
DrSN: How does a small manufacturer prepare for a meeting like Successful Selling?
Steirly: One of the biggest frustrations that we run into is the fact that [new vendors] don’t understand we’re 6,000 stores and growing so, yes, you have to potentially deal with 12 [distribution centers]. It’s a tremendously complex process, which is why we’re so anxious to help out with some of this education. We do make the meeting times, once they are established, as efficient as possible.
DrSN: What opportunities do new companies have beyond Successful Selling?
Rich Swanson: The ORBD is made up of five chairs, but a lot of the committee members are comprised of volunteers we contacted after the Marketplace educational sessions [on Successful Selling]. So, besides presenting to the audience of attendees, those attendees then start to participate and help model the presentation and the data that is being presented. It’s another working experience.
Walgreens and Kathy’s team brought [these] members of our products-to-market team out into the stores and then had an excellent one-on-one session. We did that last year with five different retailers. This year is something new in that we have had more store visits to see how marketing and merchandising and processes are working at the store level. [Participants] also get that education first-hand with the retailer. That’s like a secondary step in participation in “Successful Selling II,” then they can sign up and be part of the business modeling of our committees [where] we have monthly conference calls, one-on-one sessions with our retailers [and] face-to-face meetings with the smaller groups within the committees who are working on specific assignments. It’s very interactive.
DrSN: How does a small manufacturer prepare for a meeting like Successful Selling?
Swanson: First and foremost, in my opinion, they’ve got to get into stores.We interviewed and we spent time with five retailers last year, and there wasn’t one meeting [where retailers didn’t report] that many of the people who call on them have never been in their stores. So, visit stores, look at your competitive segments and categories…what are the elements you need to even have a vision of bringing products to the food, drug, mass classes of trade?
DrSN: Can you lay out a roadmap about what happens between Successful Selling in February and Marketplace in June?
Swanson: We’re working on a mentoring program to really bring the new members [up to speed] and educate them about how to prepare for Marketplace. That starts on day one. We made phone calls to every new member of NACDS last year and kind of walked them through the processes. And we had retailers make those phone calls, as well.
I have strong feedback that there’s been a lot of interaction between third-party groups [who are] in the process of building strategic business plans [for participants of] Successful Selling I and Marketplace [last year]. You’re going to see a build in 2008 [of new companies coming to market], because they’re doing all the preparation work.
DrSN: What should first-time participants expect?
Swanson: The biggest surprise of any new vendor coming into Marketplace is the cost of entry. They’ve miscalculated the cost of entry. But we outline the diligence that is necessary for a vendor to do that work first, and if they have part of that done, there are groups that can help bring them over that hump.
There are some companies, I would say the majority of them if they have the financing behind them, that can make that hurdle from a February time period of Successful Selling this year into that June Marketplace. Not necessarily to have their major launch, but to go out there and present their position and gain the retailer’s feedback.
S&P revises outlook on Rite Aid
NEW YORK Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services revised its outlook on chain drug retailer Rite Aid to negative from stable, the firm reported Friday. At the same time, S&P affirmed the ‘B’ corporate credit rating on Rite Aid.
“The outlook change reflects the company’s weak same-store sales and our expectation that this trend will continue over the next few quarters,” stated Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Diane Shand. Rite Aid faces a more cautious consumer, strong growth of lower-priced generics and intense competition, she said. In addition, the current environment could make it more challenging for the company to integrate its recently-acquired Brooks/Eckerd stores.
Boston Mayor decries in-store health clinics
BOSTON On the heels of the Massachusetts Public Health Council approving regulations allowing for in-store health clinics in the state, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is reportedly looking to ban the clinics from opening in the city.
The decision by the health council “jeopardizes patient safety,” Menino said in a written statement, according to a Boston Globe report. “Limited service medical clinics run by merchants in for-profit corporations will seriously compromise quality of care and hygiene. Allowing retailers to make money off of sick people is wrong.”
The newspaper also reported that, in a separate letter, the mayor urged members of the city’s Public Health Commission to consider banning the clinics from opening within Boston. CVS has plans to open 20 to 30 MinuteClinics in the Greater Boston area but it is unclear how many of those would be within the city’s limits.
Defending its decision to allow clinics to operate, the state Public Health Council issued a statement that read: “The members of the Public Health Council were deliberative and thoughtful in their review of the limited service clinic regulation. We believe these types of clinics, operated either as part of a retail operation or in a nonprofit setting, can provide the public access to safe, convenient, and quality care for minor health issues.”
Officials at MinuteClinic were not immediately available for comment.
On Jan. 9, the state Public Health Council approved rules for limited service medical clinics. The new regulations took effect immediately.
“This is a new model for health care delivery that can benefit many people in the Commonwealth. These regulations will improve consumer convenience and make it easier for non-profit organizations to establish satellite clinics in a variety of settings to serve vulnerable populations,” stated secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby in a statement issued after the approval.
Added John Auerbach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health and chair of the PHC, “Properly regulated, these types of clinics will serve an important function, making care for minor medical care more convenient. The council was mindful of not wanting to create a stand-alone system of health care, so these regulations require coordination and linkages to primary care providers.”
The approval came at the end of a long review process that included two public hearings and the submission of hundreds of pages of testimony regarding the regulations, including testimony in favor of the clinics from the Convenient Care Association.
“We appreciate the Public Health Council’s careful deliberation regarding the adopted regulations that will now guide the operation of limited services clinics in Massachusetts. These retail-based clinics are providing consumers in 35 other states with easy access to high-quality, affordable health care in the face of a nationwide primary care physician shortage. Since this growing shortage is well documented in Massachusetts, and its related health care access issues have been exacerbated by the state’s near-universal healthcare coverage, we appreciate the Council embracing limited services clinics as a partial solution to these serious problems,” said Web Golinkin, president of the CCA and chief executive officer of in-store clinic operator RediClinic, in a statement issued after the council’s decision.
Sparking the move to create specialized regulations for these clinics was CVS’ application to open a MinuteClinic in one of its stores in Weymouth. According to the council, early in the application review process it became clear that DPH regulations governing medical clinics did not address the operation of medical clinics with limited scope of services. Rather than consider applications requiring numerous waivers from full-service clinic regulations, the department decided to create a specialized set of rules.