The 3 Ps of POS

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What can pharmacies do to sort out the three Ps of point of sale: Position, Purpose, Presentation? Simon Gerrits of Pharmacium has some tips

Many pharmacies point of sale counter is either misunderstood or becomes the feature of many designs without fulfilling its purpose in your pharmacy’s life.

The purpose of a POS counter is to allow your customers to purchase products as part of their voyage through your pharmacy. Owners and staff alike can recite war stories about POS counter experiences in retail generally, but many are blind to their own everyday situation. I have explored the POS counter in three ways: Position, Purpose and Presentation.

The age-old question… Do I build a POS counter at the rear of the pharmacy or at the entrance? (Please don’t say in the middle).

The position of your POS is paramount to delivering a positive customer experience. Many experts suggest positioning a POS counter at the entrance can be beneficial. In my experience, this is subject to the number of staff you may have working in the pharmacy at any one time.

Look at your roster, turnover and layout to establish if an entrance POS will work. There is no point in placing five+ POS locations around the pharmacy if you have two staff rostered on.

If your pharmacy is staffed with one pharmacist, one tech and one pharmacy assistant, one POS located at the rear of the pharmacy would be best.

However, if your pharmacy has staff available and activity in the pharmacy is commonly high, then a well laid out POS counter at the entrance can contribute and enhance the customer experience by improving:

  • the opportunity to meet and great your customers;
  • the traffic flow, allowing better access to the scripts in position;
  • the queuing making it easy for the customer to achieve their goal, whatever that may be;
  • the safety, security and theft reduction; and
  • access to staff.

While the position can be determined by a number of factors, one thing is for sure; the 1980s idea of a centrally located POS counter is disastrous for most retail businesses. History demonstrates placing a POS in the middle of the retail area destroys traffic flow, gondola layout, stock adjacencies and occupies a disproportionate amount of floor space to its contribution to revenue.

Don’t fall into the trap of incorporating a rear POS and a front POS counter. This is often done to appease staff objections. When in reality your staff will always gravitate to the rear of the pharmacy ensuring your front POS becomes a box collector. This ultimately confuses your customers as they never quite know where to pay for their purchase. Don’t do it.

The purpose or (functionality) of your POS counter is an important conversation to have with your pharmacy design team. Ask yourself “What is this space going to be used for?” and “Who is going to work there?”.

For a busy pharmacy, the decision is an easy one. The POS is exclusively for your customers to complete their purchase while ensuring their experience is a great one interacting with well-trained store ambassadors.

However, for pharmacies with less staff and business is a little quieter, then a more creative approach is required. In these circumstances, I would recommend a multipurpose design. The main purpose is still POS, but now with additional provision for checking off stock, completing simple admin tasks and sorting paperwork.

A good design can see these everyday jobs going on without affecting the customer experience, in fact, this will ensure your staff are engaged, motivated, ready for action while not being bored or lethargic.

A good design would create:

  • intelligent solutions adding extra workspace;
  • space for stock, totes and paperwork that is not strewn over the counter; and
  • a work process that does not interfere with the POS process but enhances it.

Your design is important, you are creating a highly productive space which will double as your advertisement to every paying customer. Therefore spend the time and use experts to ensure enough space is allocated, the finished product is fit for purpose and it looks amazing. Consult with your staff, remember they are working for you everyday servicing the needs of your customers. What can you do to allow them to do their job more effectively?

An overlooked and misunderstood opportunity. How many POS counters do you experience that are overcrowded visually, difficult to approach and, when you get there, the counter is congested to the point the customer’s purchases don’t even fit on the counter in front of them!

Ask yourself, does my customer have somewhere to put their handbag? You could call these counters ‘sales rep alley’ as the number of product stands, boxes of paraphernalia, is so overwhelming the customer is confused and totally oblivious to what is on offer. Not to mention the visual pollution (which is an article in itself)!

The presentation needs to be:

  • Clear and understandable, this is a POS counter, only.
  • Clearly, have on offer a few impulse items for sale and these products should compliment your health message or pharmacy offer.
  • Approachable and uncongested especially for the people with restricted movement.

The staff responsible for your POS counter need to be in command, with a clear understanding that their activities will leave a lasting impression with your customers – especially when the POS counter is a multipurpose zone.

The most important aspect of any POS counter is your staff presentation. The whole store experience ends at this point and a friendly, smiling well-presented staff member will be the deciding factor in a customers decision to return. Even a messy counter can be overcome with great, well presented staff.

Take a look at your POS counter. Do you have multiple locations, if so, why? Do you need them? Are they uncluttered? The items for sale – are they relevant? Priced? Tidy? Can your customers approach the POS counter with ease? Consult, make a plan and start clearing today.

Simon Gerrits is the National Project and Training Manager for Pharmacium. Simon has worked within the pharmacy retail industry for 30 years. With extensive experience in designing and implementation across multi-site retail environments and in multi-brand environments for medium-sized businesses, ASX listed and global organisations. Simon has extensive experience in project management, especially in complex stakeholder environments

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1 Comment

  1. Anne Todd

    never in the middle? so why have KMART just move all their POS to the middle of the stores?

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