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Industry Issues Summit discusses retailers’ key role in health care

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Drug Store News’ 11th Annual Industry Issues Summit held here earlier this month.—It is no secret that the wobbly economy is hampering retail sales. So those retailers that want to better optimize front-end sales and keep consumers engaged in health and wellness should look for ways to further leverage the pharmacist, and further customize the store mix. That’s one of several important messages that industry leaders expressed during

Roughly 150 leading industry players gathered for the Dec. 1 event at the New York Athletic Club, which is located just a stone throw away from Central Park.

Over the years, the Industry Issues Summit has become a critical industry event, but this year proved to be especially important with healthcare reform hanging in the balance, the turbulent economy reshaping consumer shopping behavior and retail pharmacies increasingly taking a proactive role on the frontlines of U.S. health care.

“Vendors and retailers spend most of their time across a desk from each other selling, buying, negotiating. It’s rare that 150 vendors and retailers—from chain drug, club and supermarket—get together in one place and take the time to talk about big-picture trends and how to improve the buyer/seller relationship so that everyone’s business can benefit,” said John Kenlon, VP and group publisher of Drug Store News.

Kicking off the session was a presentation by Dan O’Connor, president and CEO of RetailNet Group. O’Connor provided attendees with a look into the future of retailing—a landscape he believed will give rise to more “self-service” health services and “coopetition” in the coming years. According to O’Connor, the term “coopetition” refers to the notion that retailers and brands essentially will all become brands that will be both cooperative and respectfully competitive as consumers are given even more shopping options, especially as it relates to e-commerce.

Following O’Connor’s presentation, retailer and supplier panelists dove into some of the most important issues facing the industry today.

Retail participants for the Industry Issues Summit panel discussions included Bryan Shirtliff of Rite Aid, David Fong of Safeway, Charlie Burnett of Costco, Dewayne Rabon of Winn-Dixie, Craig Norman of H-E-B, Barbara Zamudio of Ulta Beauty and Bill Bergin of Rite Aid. Supplier panelists included John Sullivan of Kao Brands, Mike Voaden of Alberto Culver, Joel Carden of Pacific World, Scott Patricki of Pharmavite, David Howenstine of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Mark Cieslinski of Mentholatum and Sharon Glass of Catalina Marketing.

The panel discussions hit on a wide variety of topics, such as SKU rationalization, how companies are reevaluating their business in light of the economy, the role social media is playing and how to optimize front-end sales and keep consumers engaged in health, beauty and wellness. New product innovation and how retailers actually define “innovation” also was a topic of discussion.

Some common themes that emerged from the discussions: Both retailers and suppliers agreed that increasing consumer education is critical, especially as it relates to health and wellness; retailers increasingly are turning away from cookie-cutter boxes and are looking more toward segmentation; and, while such social media as Facebook and Twitter is important, retailers and suppliers still are trying to figure out how best to leverage it.

Capping off the day was the 7th Annual Diabetes Leadership Roundtable (see related story at left) followed by a panel discussion on specialty pharmacy.

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Hy-Vee names new president

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A 28-year employee of Hy-Vee has become its new president, according to published reports.

The company appointed Randall Edeker as president of the supermarket chain Thursday at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding Ric Jurgens, who had served as president since 2001 and will maintain his position as chairman and CEO.

Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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