Kerr expands health focus beyond stores
Kerr Drug describes its free prescription delivery service — launched in fall 2010 and renewed to positive customer response for 2011 — as “old school innovation.” If “old school” means anticipating consumers’ health and everyday-product needs, and meeting them with a down-home approach to store service and a broader-than-usual menu of pharmacy care options, then the tag could apply to Kerr’s entire business strategy.
The chain has pruned its retail network to a core group of 76 high-yield drug stores and a number of clinical pharmacies, all in North Carolina, as well as a combination specialty pharmacy and mail-order center in its home market of Raleigh. “We have fewer properties now, but all of them are excellent,” asserted Diane Eliezer, Kerr’s director of marketing.
After developing a groundbreaking array of retail health services offered through a variety of drug store formats, Kerr remains one of chain pharmacy’s most innovative retail health providers. With the launch last year of Kerr Health, a separate division devoted to providing clinical pharmacy and wellness services directly to employers, long-term care facilities and other entities, the company has broadened its health focus well beyond the drug store setting.
Ten Kerr stores still feature “an expanded clinical presence” ranging from “a clinical office that does screenings” to “a full Community Care Center,” Eliezer told Drug Store News. These days, however, the chain’s highly regarded clinical pharmacy team is “out of the store as much or more than they’re in,” she said, as they provide immunizations, health screenings and other services to business and community organizations through Kerr Health.
“Originally, we thought there would be much more of a retail application with that, but it turns out that has not grown as quickly as we’d hoped. But there’s a great deal of business … out of the store, as well as [medication therapy management] and immunizations in the store,” Eliezer explained.
Meanwhile, the chain maintains its pioneering approach to community-based health care. Kerr was the first drug chain, for instance, to launch ActiveCare’s ActiveOne PAL, or personal assistance link, a rapid-response system that links seniors via a one-touch cell phone link to emergency health providers.
ShopRite adds dietitians, mobile spaces
ShopRite is striving to help its shoppers shop right by focusing on health and wellness and added convenience. To help customers live healthier lives, the grocer has, at select locations, an on-site registered dietitian.
Wakefern implemented the retail dietitian program in 2006, and today there are 20 retail dietitians working in 23 ShopRite locations.
This free service offers customers the opportunity to discuss their health and dietary needs with a nutrition professional to create customized meal plans. The dietitian can educate customers on a number of issues, including how to shop for healthy meals and proper nutrition for specific medical conditions, and can schedule monthly screenings for specific health issues, such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
The dietitians are available to walk the aisles with customers for a personal touch, but there also are in-store shelf tags — e.g., gluten-free, organic, natural, fat-free, low-fat, sugar-free, reduced sugar, no sugar added and low sodium — to help customers navigate the aisles.
Online shoppers will find weekly articles and healthy “Right for Tonight” recipes that are posted by the corporate dietitian, and there’s also an Ask the Dietitian feature on the site to help educate consumers. In store, the grocer also offers monthly screenings for specific health issues, such as glucose screenings during November and cholesterol screenings in September.
Winn-Dixie renews ‘fresh & local’ appeal
If sports columnists covered Winn-Dixie, their story line would read something like this: The Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer has climbed back into the ring as a slimmed-down and much-improved fighter competing in a lighter weight class.
The evidence is abundant that Winn-Dixie has regained its balance. In fiscal 2010 — a year hammered by recession and slack sales — the chain generated net earnings of $28.9 million, finished upgrading nearly half its store base, unveiled a dazzling new store prototype and poured $190 million into strategic improvements and the expansion of its “Fresh & Local” strategy.
Capping a long retrenchment, Winn-Dixie last year shed another 30 stores saddled with high lease costs and other problems. To restore profitability, it focused on “adjusting our promotional practices,” in the words of chairman, president and CEO Peter Lynch, and on the rebranding and expansion of its private brands, which now comprise nearly 4,000 products and account for 23% of “all the brands we sell in dollar terms,” according to the company.
Most significant, Winn-Dixie has remodeled roughly half its 484 supermarkets. Capping that renovation effort was the unveiling last year of a dramatically improved store prototype in Margate, Fla., and Covington, La., that highlights the company’s Fresh & Local market strategy.
Led by VP pharmacy John Fegan, a veteran of Ahold USA, the pharmacy division has certified all but a few of its 800 pharmacists to provide immunizations and some 400 of them to offer medication therapy management.
“With the availability of generics and the prices so low, it really comes down to the service … and [the] comfort the [customer] gets from walking in and talking with the pharmacist,” Fegan said.
Among recent innovations are a centralized prescription record system, called WD RxConnect, and an optional, automatic script-refill program.