BEAUTY CARE

Pharmabox kiosk named ‘most innovative’

BY Michael Johnsen

MIAMI — Pharmabox has been named by Self Service News Magazine as having one of the most innovative retailing systems of the year, the company announced Monday. Pharmabox in May introduced a self-service kiosk stocked with more than 140 health and beauty items. 
 
“We may be only half way into 2015, but we think we've already spotted a potential winner for the most innovative machine of the year,” the magazine reported. The Pharmabox features all the latest technologies, including cashless payment systems, interactive screens that display complete product information and wireless backend management systems, Self Service News reported. 
 
Both Kroger and Max-Wellness launched similar kiosks in 2012. It is brand extension and an inexpensive way to propel a retailer’s reach well beyond the bricks and clicks they have today, Max-Wellness CEO Michael Feuer told Drug Store News then. “The reality of retailing today is it’s changing,” he said. “What we look at is expanding and becoming a national brand by … creating points of presence.”
 
"Think about how many times the average consumer has to run out to the store to get a medicine, personal care item, beauty product, or even a battery," commented Alejandro Rodriguez, CEO Pharmabox. "We can cut the time it takes to get those items, reduce the number of cars on the road, and have a positive impact on the environment – just by placing a Pharmabox automated kiosk in key locations. The cost and time savings, plus the added convenience for consumers could be enormous.”
 
Rodriguez has plans to deploy the Pharmabox units in high-traffic locations throughout the nation, including airports, hotels, business centers, transportation hubs, apartment complexes, college campuses and dormitories, fitness centers, hospitals, sports stadiums and retail stores.
 
“Within a short time, Pharmabox will redefine the way consumers shop for medicines and personal care items,” Rodriguez said. “Just as Redbox changed their industry, we will change ours – for the better.”
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GMDC, RNG create new merchandising planning tool

BY Michael Johnsen

ORLANDO, Fla. — GMDC and RetailNet Group have launched a new partnership tool, the GMDC/RNG Insights Portal, which helps member companies accelerate merchandise planning, benchmark retail performance and answer critical questions when building their businesses.
 
“This remarkable partnership between GMDC and RNG goes beyond sharing retail knowledge into motivating members to be marketplace catalysts,” commented Patrick Spear, GMDC president. “Members can pair the GMDC/RNG Insights Portal with additional tools the association offers, such as the GMDC/Nielsen GM Hierarchy, in order to continue on the path of growth.”
 
The new tool will better enable partners to navigate an emerging retail model, Dan O'Connor, RetailNet Group president and CEO, told attendees Saturday at the Global Market Development Center’s General Merchandise Marketing Conference here as part of a presentation titled “Re-Discover Retail.” 
 
“There are several very powerful economic, societal and political changes that will fundamentally reshape the consumer expectation,” O'Connor said. “Among these is the overall long-term movement to accelerate spending on experiences while reducing overall merchandise share of spending growth. Another factor is the changing U.S. age distribution paired with very different economic expectations across generations and social strata. Think about the impact on sales of the average millennials aging into peak consumption, while the boomers age out.” 
 
These drivers paired with ever-evolving communication technologies will continue to change consumer behavior, expectations and retail vitality at a breathtaking speed. 
 
"Digital marketplace and other direct to consumer models will move about 25% of today’s retail sales from a store-based self-service model where the consumer does the work," he said, meaning she comes to the store, picks the product, packs it and delivers it home. "In the new world we retailers will do the pick, pack and ship,” O'Connor said.
 
O'Connor described a new winning model emerging: A three-legged structure blending revenues and profits from stores, digital retail and — perhaps the most critical capability, he said — an automated marketing platform.
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Bloom to vendors: Fred’s is ‘open for business, poised for growth’

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS — There is a new team at the helm of Fred's Super Dollar, and besides a core focus on building a sound pharmacy base to drive that business, that new Fred's team is fast at work reorchestrating its entire front-end and store operations to support its more than 900 pharmacists who are practicing behind the back bench.
 
With the recent additions of Mike Bloom, president and COO, and Bryan Pugh, chief merchandising and marketing officer, the message for the supplier community is clear: Fred's is open to implementing the kind of profit-bearing partnerships across its more-than 660 store base that generate success stories for all involved. 
 
“Bryan and I just attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual conference and conducted strategic meetings with about 50 of our top CPG suppliers in our industry,” Bloom told analysts last week. “Our message was clear. We are open for business and poised for growth. Come on down to Memphis and together we will develop a strategic business plan for mutual growth,” he said. "We also recently hosted the Consumer Healthcare Products Association here in Memphis for an immersion into the Fred’s story. We hosted CEOs, presidents and various senior executives from small- to mid-sized healthcare companies. We conducted a Fred's seminar and a store tour. The interest in Fred's and their willingness to partner with us to grow our mutual business is very positive."
 
Pugh — a former Walgreens product pioneer — and his team are implementing a new business review process designed to ensure the right assortment at the right value for Fred's customers. "We have completed 19 [category] reviews thus far and those businesses where we have executed the changes are experiencing anywhere from mid-single-digit comp growth to double-digit comp growth," Bloom said. "The process is working. We still have a lot of reviews to complete and the teams are working hard at prioritizing them through the balance of the year."
 
As a component of those business reviews, Fred's is addressing pricing, marketing and shelf presentation — which looks at where one brand goes versus another brand based on market share. "It's a pretty intense process and a lot of great dialog. And like I said, it never ends," Bloom said. 
 
Fred's is utilizing Nielsen insights as a basis for information, Bloom explained. "Where our customer is shopping, where she is purchasing items that she is not purchasing in our stores, market share, items not carried, we're doing a lot more competitive shops and visits, we're working closer with supplier partners to get their resources and information surrounding the categories, we have a complete new focus on new items," he said. "We're going to market faster with new items, which is very important, you'll hear me say, over and over new items drive comp sales in our business."
 
As Fred's focuses on retooling its front-end planograms, the company has placed its remodel program on hold. "We have made nice progress toward a new layout that will include new space allocation based on the new customer-focused need-it-now assortment, improved site lines and navigation as well as better adjacencies that coincide with the roll of the category and how our customer shops the store," Bloom said. "We anticipate having this new model up and running during the third quarter, so we can measure the financial results and the overall customer experience."
 
Fred's is also focused on store operations in an effort to improve execution and reduce out-of-stocks. "We have executed a new store cycle count policy that became effective in March that will improve in-stocks for our customers," Bloom said. "The policy has been in place for 15 weeks and we are starting to see in-stocks improve at store level. We have executed a new door-to-floor initiative for our stores to ensure that we are processing freight in a timely manner to again improve in-stocks for our customers."
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