Retailers and suppliers addressed issues affecting chain pharmacy in various settings — business programs, Meet the Retailer sessions and one-on-one meetings — and connected at a host of social events.
“The theme for today, and moving forward, is the customer — understanding the customer’s needs and meeting them,” new NACDS chairman Alex Gourlay of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said at the Annual Meeting.
Gourlay detailed some of the big shifts that are affecting the chain drug industry, including demographics, fulfillment, shopping behavior, wellness and personalization.
“Demographics is obvious — the aging population; the changing of America,” he said. “And the choice that customers have, in terms of getting their favorite solutions, their favorite brands, instantly, through their mobile phone, is a big shift in behavior.”
The growing consumer interest in health care, and in being proactive in taking care of themselves, represents another big change, and a big opportunity. Gourlay, who noted that he spent more than half of his 40-year career in the industry as a pharmacist and a store manager, said he believes the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and chain drug retailers are well-positioned to make a real and positive difference in people’s lives.
Outgoing NACDS chairman Martin Otto of H-E-B, as well as NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, also stressed the need for improvements in America’s health care system.
“We’ve got costs that are too high, quality that doesn’t measure up to what we’d like it to be, and access issues for Americans that aren’t at the level that we’d hope they would be,” said Otto, who is chief merchant and chief financial officer at H-E-B.