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NACDS, Walgreens partner in Successful Selling

BY DSN STAFF

CHICAGO —The National Association of Chain Drug Stores next month will be hosting its second Successful Selling conference, an event for small- to mid-tier companies looking to break into the drug channel of trade or make that channel more profitable.

This year NACDS partnered with Walgreens to coincide with the chain’s New Vendor Days, which guarantees participants an audience with one of the premier drug chains in the industry. “That’s a tremendous addition to the program and hopefully it’s going to be as equally as good for Walgreens,” said Fitz Elder, NACDS’ vice president, member relations and chief member relations officer.

“Not only will these people have an opportunity to test their retail readiness right there, but hopefully Walgreens is going to find some exciting new products and be first to market with them.”

Each vendor participant will get 20 minutes with the appropriate Walgreens buyer. While 20 minutes may not seem like much, that could be the foot in the door that these companies need. “The other thing that is important is not only do they get all this training, and certainly the key for all of them is the opportunity to meet with Walgreens, but the other benefit is that they’ll have the broker community, some sales marketing people, advertising companies and some of the ancillary service companies that can help them put wheels on the training that we give them,” Elder said.

Perhaps it’s that partnership with Walgreens that has driven participation in the Successful Selling venue to more than double the number of companies that participated last year. Or it could be that word of last year’s success has reverberated through the industry—23 of last year’s 53 companies parlayed their Successful Selling learnings into an NACDS Marketplace or NACDS Pharmacy appearance. It’s likely a combination of the two, but the fact remains that this year is expected to be a much larger show.

The impetus for the show was borne out of the NACDS Retail Advisory board, comprised of both drug retailers and veteran vendors, which identified the value in innovative new products brought to market by niche companies, as well as the challenge these companies have cutting their teeth in the mass market for the first time. The board put together a sub-committee, aptly named the Outreach and Business Development Committee, to develop a conference that would not only familiarize new-to-the-channel companies with the basics in competing successfully, but also would put those companies in touch with resources that could aid them in their quest to mass.

“One of the problems that [ORBD] found with those companies is that they really weren’t ready to go to market, and anything that we might be able to do to help them prepare and get prepared and understand how business is done in drug, food and mass would be beneficial to [those smaller companies],” Elder said.

The meeting is designed to appeal to more than just the new-to-mass-market companies, Elder said, but to those companies who already have a toe in the water and are looking to make a bigger splash. “They need a boot camp, they need a refresher process to make sure that they’re hitting on all the cylinders and doing all the things that they can to bring their product forward,” Elder said. “[And] we’re seeing a number of companies signing up this year that are successful in other classes of trade, but aren’t in food, drug and mass. Consequently they see this as a great opportunity to understand the nuances of the business up front to get moving and come to market prepared for these classes of trade.”

There are three active work groups that help round out the programming driving Successful Selling. One work group addresses the logistics behind bringing products to market. Another work group deals with the hoops and hurdles associated with negotiating retail placement, including slotting fees and such. And the third work-group is made up of brokers and sales/marketing companies, complete with educational models on how those companies can help a new company succeed at mass.

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S&P revises outlook on Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

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.

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Boston Mayor decries in-store health clinics

BY Antoinette Alexander

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.

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