Footfall – think about it

Footfall seems to be a holy grail for community pharmacy; however I am frequently surprised by how little people think about this.

So the first and very short discussion was about Hubbox. So this is a service for people who order stuff on line and aren’t at home to receive it – I have to say that I have sympathy and too small a letterbox. I can remember writing a blog about the size of my letterbox and how this limits what can be delivered to my home while I am out. So Hubbox is a method where you can nominate a shop that accepts delivery of your packet and holds it until you can collect. It is being suggested as a mechanism to drive footfall in community pharmacy.

When talking about proactive clinical community pharmacy practice – as I am often found doing – I ask pharmacists about the people who come into their pharmacies. It would seem that the statistic that 1.6m people go into a community pharmacy every day means relatively little if we don’t have some awareness of who they are and what they need. I would add that the purpose of any business is delivering customer needs profitably – but that would just show that I have read one line from a marketing textbook.

So 1.6m enter a pharmacy every day. Some of them have a definite health related purpose – they ask for help with a symptom, but others bring in prescriptions or buy something. In the future some might be simply collecting packets. I would suspect that many of them leave with very little input from the pharmacy team – here’s your prescription – that will be £4.99 – or something similar.

Now a real business – one that believes in ‘marketing’ would know who their customers were and what their needs were. A real business would have parcels of care ready to deliver – off the shelf – wouldn’t they? Delivering the needs of customers profitably.

Footfall is such a poor concept – to be honest I wouldn’t want everyone to come into my pharmacy. It is a flawed concept thinking that by simply increasing footfall you are going to increase sales. All the time ignoring the small group of customers that contributes to the profitability of the business and the larger group that could contribute if I engaged them properly. So is footfall that I need to focus on – people that have or are likely to have health needs that I can satisfy. So I want more of these to come in – they can gain the greatest health benefit from my care. But how do I target these people – and is my pharmacy receptive – and do I have a series of parcels of care ready to deliver?

It may be a different approach compared to retailing. In supermarkets people come in to do ‘shopping’ so putting products in certain positions is very sensible. A pharmacy needs to be a more professional environment – I firstly need to think whether I have the layout that attracts the people I want to come in. When they are in, then it is up to my team to explore needs, uncover needs and wants and satisfy them.

I could say that Pharmacies have it so easy. Many people come in with a prescription which gives you a clear diagnosis to start from. However, I feel that few pharmacy teams take advantage of this valuable piece of information. Can you link diagnosis to a health need and a parcel of care?

So let’s rethink footfall from the blunderbuss approach to something more appropriate to a professional retail clinical community pharmacy environment. Let’s understand our customers, engage in health needs and help to improve outcomes.



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