- Supervalu joins a growing list of retailers that provide wide-ranging health care services to customers. The grocery chain’s pharmacy division recently offered free diabetes screenings and will provide free 90-minute grocery store tours with a pharmacist and dietitian to help those with diabetes learn to live and eat well, according to The Shelby Report.
- Wegmans also rolled out health kiosks last year in its stores and corporate sites, which allow customers and employees to measure their weight, body mass index, pulse and blood pressure, Supermarket News reported. Higi, the maker of the health screening stations, now has the technology to share customer data with the Wegmans pharmacy team, allowing them to “swiftly react to each consumer’s health concerns,” the report said.
- Schnucks is adding cardiovascular health kiosks from PharmaSmart International Inc. in its 95 pharmacy locations. According to Supermarket News, Schnucks is installing the kiosks to help drive Medicare Star Ratings, specifically in areas of medication adherence for hypertension and blood pressure control.
Convenience is high on nearly every shopper’s priority list these days. Grocery chains seem smart to add pharmacies, allowing customers to pick up prescriptions and buy food in one stop. In-house pharmacies and clinics likely keep buyers from skipping the grocery store altogether to pick up medications and other items at the corner pharmacy/convenience store instead, ScriptPro said.
Although customer convenience is nice, grocery chains and big-box retailers such as Walmart are adding pharmacies to boost their bottom lines, industry consultant Gary Ellis told the Modern Medicine Network. He’s been helping supermarket companies add pharmacy operations for more than 20 years, and said retailers are now more likely to hire pharmacists than traditional pharmacies.
Even if pharmacies themselves aren’t huge money makers, grocers hope by offering pharmacy services, they can encourage customers to shop for everything at the store. Profit is in front-end sales, and every prescription that walks through the door represents more — every new prescription is worth $43 in additional sales in other departments, he told the trade publication.
The Food Marketing Institute found that pharmacy sales account for around 3% of grocery store sales, or about 6% to 9% of store revenues for chains with a heavier pharmacy presence such as Kroger, Albertsons and Publix. Adding other perks like nutritional instruction and in-store dietitians are other ways to encourage customer loyalty, Ellis noted.
But grocery store pharmacists feel the same pressure others in the healthcare industry do to keep costs low. As Supermarket News said, the proliferation of risk assessment kiosks is due, in part, to the fact that health insurers pay attention to whether consumers are adhering to medical plans for high blood pressure or diabetes when determining whether pharmacies should be included in provider networks. The kiosks help pharmacies catch problems early.
Grocery stores in a competitive market may view pharmacies — and the risk assessment kiosks and clinics that support them — as ways to attract and keep loyal customers. But retailers should also keep in mind that the health care industry is equally volatile, and pharmacies provide no guarantees of long-term sales increases.