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Shopko expands private-label product range

BY Alaric DeArment

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mass merchandise chain Shopko has added 70 new items to its line of private-label products, the company said Monday.

Amid the 350-store chain’s 50-year anniversary, Shopko said the products were mostly health, beauty and cleaning products. A further 175 products will be introduced in 2013 across personal care, over-the-counter and general merchandise categories, including skin care, sun care, hair care, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, vitamins, oral care, incontinence, diapers and shaving. Shopko introduced private-label products about five years ago and has expanded the number of products to more than 700 across product categories.

"We test all of our products against the national brand equivalent to assure that our product quality meets or exceeds that of the national brand," Shopko SVP product development and general merchandise manager for consumables Tom Abbott said. "Our research has found that Shopko brand products are as good as or better than the national brands, but at a fraction of the price, which is a welcome benefit to our customers in this economy. Customers appreciate that they are getting the high-quality products they desire, while enjoying the savings that our private-brand offers."

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Satisfaction guaranteed?

BY Rob Eder

With Walgreens back in the Express Scripts network again, and all of those millions of patients suddenly up for grabs, today’s Patient Views infographic is an important reminder of how difficult it can be to get pharmacy patients to switch — that is, assuming things like cost and access are equal. Overall, 73% of patients said they were very satisfied with the their preferred pharmacy, according to an exclusive survey of nearly 800 patients conducted by AccentHealth and DSN in late July and early August.

Interestingly enough, grocery stores (80%) finished at the top of the curve along with local independents (81%). Keep in mind 9-out-of-10 patients have a preferred pharmacy, and the fact that 84% say their insurance allows them to go to the pharmacy of their choice, the battle to win ESI pharmacy patients will be a fight for the ages.

To see more Patient Views, click here.

Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that will be appear in every edition of DSN magazine and the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to reder@lf.com.

How satisfied are you with your preferred pharmacy?

Source: AccentHealth. To view the methodology, click here.

 

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Raising the professional practice bar, one federal health campaign at a time

BY Jim Frederick

Pharmacists got another opportunity this month to show their skills and help ease the healthcare system’s growing financial crisis and resource shortage. Will it move the needle on true health reform and the expanding pharmacy practice model?

On Sept. 5, the independent pharmacy community got word that its chief advocacy group, the National Community Pharmacists Association, will take part in a major new preventive care program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pharmacy-focused campaign, called "Team Up. Pressure Down." enlists community pharmacists in a program to help hypertensive patients more effectively manage and control their high blood pressure.

The campaign, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative co-led by the CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The feds are supporting pharmacists who participate and counsel hypertensive Americans with patient education materials and other resources.

It’s no secret that cash-strapped public and private health plan payers are increasingly looking to chain and independent pharmacies and retail-based clinics to fill the gap in cost-effective, accessible community-based health care. Jeff Kang, SVP health-and-wellness services and solutions for Walgreens, argues that pharmacists are the nation’s most underutilized health resource. But as isuch nfluential health stakeholders as the HHS and the CDC more heavily rely on the contributions those pharmacists can make to a health system in dire need of new, cost-saving solutions and improved patient access to health resources, the longstanding gap between pharmacy and other healthcare entities in this country is finally beginning to close.

The CDC’s "Team Up" alliance is one program bridging that gap, but there are plenty of others. The federal government’s growing recognition of the contributions that pharmacists and retail clinicians can bring to a reforming U.S. healthcare system got another big boost last month when HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited a CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic in Jacksonville, Fla. Sebelius was there to highlight new federal benefits and options for Medicare beneficiaries, including a free annual wellness visit and a wide variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to patients.

"CVS Caremark and our other pharmacy partners are helping its customers make informed healthcare decisions," Sebelius said. "These partnerships will help people with Medicare learn more about new preventive services, such as mammograms, and the new annual wellness visit that are available at no charge for everyone with Medicare."

The nation’s leading health official toured the store and clinic, met with CVS leaders and patients, and even had her blood pressure checked by MinuteClinic staff.

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