Discount Drug Stores announced a range of exciting new services to offer more value and opportunity for its members at its first National Conference since being acquired by Central Healthcare Services, a subsidiary of Sigma Pharmaceuticals.
Featuring the first address from Mark Hooper as CEO of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, the conference was held in Fiji in May with the theme “Here and Now”.
Focusing on strategies to stay competitive and successful Discount Drug Stores Executive General Manager Douglas Kuskopf-Dallas described the current climate as “one of the most challenging periods the pharmacy industry has seen”.
“We have spent the last few years planning and preparing for the PBS reforms and now that our industry is in the midst of these changes, we are continuing to invest further by launching initiatives to help our members with the transition and to offer both our customers and business owners more value,” Kuskopf-Dallas said.
“We’re investing in new initiatives whilst also increasing the business support rebate for our members which means we’ve been able to stick to our commitment over the last four years of providing more benefits to owners while reducing costs.
“We feel it’s very important to help our stores achieve efficiencies and improve productivity so that our staff in those stores are able to spend more time engaging with our customers.
“On saying that, it’s important for our brand to reach new customers and grow the number of people visiting our stores.
“Through an increased investment in marketing, particularly focusing on television commercials, loyalty programs and local area marketing we believe we can make progress in these areas.”
The acquisition by CHS/Sigma has allowed DDS to invest further into initiatives, all designed to increase value to members.
Many of the initiatives focus on customer engagement, including the launch of the DDS digital strategy, incorporating the introduction of a loyalty club and a new eCommerce site that is designed to direct orders to individual franchisees.
Also announced was a new television campaign which will be a collaboration between CHS pharmacies offering greater media opportunities for major brands in store through a new ‘infomercial’.
There was a strong focus throughout the conference on how to more effectively manage staff in a pharmacy environment, with presentations on this from a number of guest presenters including Tina Scrine from the Pharmacy Guild, and also a session on customer engagement, loyalty and the future of shopping behaviour.
“With pharmacy under the spotlight, our stores need to engage with customers more than ever, so we are ensuring we have programmes in place to enhance this engagement and also to ensure our staff have the utmost training and dedication,” said Mr Kuskopf-Dallas.
The conference also had a strong focus on professional services, with many presentations giving attendees a deeper look into productivity optimisation tactics for both front of shop staff and those in the dispensary, with the goal of increasing the time pharmacists can spend with customers.
Attendees were also treated to a presentation by special guest Hannah Mann – owner of Kimberley Pharmacy Services and winner of both major awards at the 2015 APP who spoke about the importance of a focus on community healthcare and working collaboratively with other healthcare professionals.
“Our 2015 focus is about identifying where we can provide more value to all our stakeholders- from the customer to our business owners and suppliers, and implementing initiatives to support that,” Mr Kuskopf-Dallas said.
“Most importantly, we are ensuring that our customers are receiving the highest possible level of care and attention at all times. This will be, and always has been, fundamental to our continued success and growth.”
DDS also raised over $60,000 for their two charity partners, Assistance Dogs Australia and Free To Be, through their charity auction and other fundraising throughout the conference, which included a $20,000 company donation.