Vaccines let stores be seen in a new light

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The opportunity at retail at this moment, with consumers setting up appointments and coming in to get their vaccines at store level, is a great opportunity for the retailers to expose their services to the consumers. It is also a way to bring in new customers to a store that they have never shopped at before.

As stated in The Wall Street Journal regarding CVS, so far there are 8 million new customers that had not shopped at CVS pharmacy in the past year. I’m sure we can all visualize it: Customers set up an appointment and come in to get their vaccines. This offers the retailer an opportunity to interact with the consumer on a very personal level. That gives the retailer an opportunity to present to the customers what it can offer as it relates to keeping well.

I believe the more important and critical piece is the connection that the customer will have with the store and the people within the store. It is a connection of help, which is why they are coming in — to get that vaccine — and it gives the customer the opportunity to see the store with a new perspective and an opportunity to engage the customer in a different light: Now is the time to take care of yourself.

One thing COVID makes clear is that we need to do our best to stay healthy and reevaluate our lifestyle. To the point of saying that eating properly is critical to good health. Although it has always been there, it has been made very loud and clear because of COVID that one needs to eat a healthy diet with more vegetables and fruit. A healthy diet can affect our body’s ability to prevent infections and help support our immune systems. The need to exercise and move around more. Physical activity benefits both the body and the mind and can help give our days a routine.

Take care of our mental health and care for ourselves. The pandemic has been very stressful and has had a major effect on our lives. It can be lonely and isolating, which can increase stress. It’s very important to stay connected to friends and loved ones. And it’s very important to Care for Yourself.

This provides an opportunity when the consumer comes in to the store to emphasize products within the store to help them stay safe and healthy. One area is sleep. Consumers are being told through the CDC that a good night’s sleep is important for good health. There should be signs within the store showing the consumer that there are products to help them get a good night’s sleep. Not that they don’t know they’re there, but more importantly to know what they need to do to stay healthy. Store merchandising needs improvement to tie this all together.

Sections are now identified in general terms, but they need to highlight and identify conditions such as diabetes, heart health and brain health. There are things they should be doing to take care of themselves, and this needs signage in the store. We need our employees within the store to be kind to the customers and help them find their needs, whether it’s having a concierge there to help or other means of identifying products in the stores and helping them find what they need. Keep in mind there are new customers that have come into the store for the first time. We need to make them welcome as they come in to get their vaccines. Customers today need to be looked upon kindly. They need to be welcomed in the store and made to feel a part of it.

Both Ulta and Sephora are expanding and opening stores at a time when theoretically the business model should be going the other way. General department stores that played such a big role in the past may not now or in the future. With COVID, people are afraid to go into the big department stores with a lot of people. There is an opportunity for the retailer to emphasize beauty within the stores and make them their customer during these times.

There is a great opportunity for the pharmacists. Pharmacists have always been known as the go-to person for health. They are now going to be playing the general practitioner in the medical field. They need to make the customer feel they are there to help and make their lives better and excited about the future. When a customer comes in to get their vaccine, someone should be welcoming them and assisting them to the proper area. They should be given a one-pager with things to do to stay healthy and some products ideas that can help.

The big issue confronting everyone going forward is wellness and health. Wellness needs to be more specific to identify actual needs. The word wellness is too broad. Consumers being at home are trying to stay healthier than they’ve ever been in the past.

Bob Kwait is chairman of Kwait & Associates/Bob Kwait Consulting Group. He can be contacted at rjkwait@gmail.com.


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