Retail News Breaks Archives
Pharmaca set to step up expansion
April 22nd, 2014
BOULDER, Colo. – Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is gearing up again for more rapid growth after adding just two stores since 2012.
Coming off a 5.7% same-store sales gain in 2013, the company plans to debut a unit in Denver next month, and three to four stores in the Northwest and southern California later in 2014. The latter openings include Seattle, scheduled for August, and Beaverton, Ore., slated for September.
"We're in a very solid financial position now," said vice president of marketing Laura Coblentz. "The second half of 2014 will be busy."
Overall, Pharmaca operates 24 stores in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.
Pharmaca also continues to increase e-commerce sales. Online revenue has been growing 35% annually and this year will reach $6 million. The retailer's goal is to boost e-commerce sales to well over $15 million in the next five years. To do so, Pharmaca is considering enlarging its Boulder, Colo., distribution center, which also serves its brick-and-mortar stores.
While a large percentage of website sales come from store customers in the chain's five-state operating area, other orders come from around the country.
"There's growing interest in our products and categories, especially natural beauty," Coblentz commented.
In the pharmacy arena, Pharmaca last year expanded its immunization offerings from traditional flu and pertussis shots to broad-based travel vaccinations and pretravel consultations. The chain also began offering immunizations for HPV, rabies, typhoid and shingles, as allowed by states.
"That's been a great opportunity for us in the front end as well as the pharmacy," Coblentz said. "Customers coming in for travel vaccines are also looking for such essentials as travel-size personal care products, melatonin for sleep, probiotics and nausea preventives."
On the technology front, the chain launched an online pharmacy interface for refills and script history reviews. A relaunch with a more user-friendly design from mscripts LLC also allows patients to transfer scripts to Pharmaca from any other pharmacy. Mscripts also developed the Pharmaca mobile app, which supports refill requests and reminders, and will also support transfers.
The chain, too, has reintroduced its nutrient depletion education program for prescription users. At the point of purchase, a drug's NDC number triggers a printout that lets patients know about statins' depletion of CoQ10 and antibiotics' depletion of probiotics. The printout comes along with a coupon for supplements recommended for replenishment.
Pharmaca has also broadened its pet medication offering. "We've discovered that a large percentage of our customers have pets," noted Coblentz.
In light of that, a number of stores have wide-ranging merchandise for dogs and cats, including supplements, toys and support products. "It was natural to offer pet medications in the pharmacy, for conditions from heartworm to allergic dermatitis," Coblentz said.
Front ends also offer treatments for pain and arthritis, and homeopathic products for nerves.
Throughout the front end, Pharmaca is intent on growing customer count and increasing basket size. It has been helped in that regard by the robust Feel Better Rewards loyalty program. Members are continually segmented and targeted with relevant offers. The chain sends e-mails every week to members who shop in stores and online.
Coblentz said Pharmaca sees a major opportunity in natural beauty categories, including facial care, skin care and cosmetics. It's expanding those departments and adding brands that aren't available elsewhere. In addition, the installation of Natural Beauty Bars in six locations — complete with such services as waxing and makeovers — has enhanced Pharmaca's place as a one-stop beauty location.