What Your Retail Pharmacy Needs to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is almost upon us, and it will assuredly wreak havoc on your pharmacy clientele. Because this is the first year of returning to more “normal” operations since the pandemic, and because some states are easing isolation requirements and other mandatory precautions, there is bound to be an increase in the spread of cold and flu symptoms. Make sure your retail pharmacy is prepared for this year’s cold and flu season with these helpful tools — including the latest point of sale (POS) software.
1. The Right Products and Inventory
The supply-chain disruptions that accompanied the pandemic are still being resolved. As a result, inventory management needs and practices have changed. Retail pharmacists must think ahead and avoid just-in-time ordering to ensure they have the products their customers need when they need them. Out-of-stock situations lead to disappointed customers, and when they’re already feeling sick and miserable, the last thing they want to do is have to go to multiple locations to find what they need. You can bet the next time they need something, they will be less likely to continue doing business with you.
One way to avoid losing current and future business due to out-of-stocks is to be familiar with the 10 most requested products at pharmacies during cold and flu season:
- Pain and fever relievers
- Congestion or sinus pain relievers
- Chest congestion reliever/mucus control
- Relief for runny nose, sneezing, or itchy/watery eyes
- Dry cough relievers
- Sore throat relievers (lozenges or sprays)
- Hand sanitizer
- Heating pads (for muscle aches)
Paying particular attention to these products and ensuring that your inventory is stocked, is only half the battle. Your POS system’s inventory management software may already have these seasonal demands programmed in its replenishment purchasing options. However, be sure to adjust order dates for early delivery, so you don’t run into supply-chain issues.
You also need to ensure your retail pharmacy POS software is compatible with handheld solutions to mitigate crowding and usage of one stationary terminal for staff updating inventory counts. Plus, when your employees can take inventory right on their tablets, there’s no need to share pens or other tools, reducing contact and the potential spread of germs.
2. PPE and Proper Safety Measures
The success of your retail pharmacy depends not only on good inventory management but also on the health and safety of your staff. Ensure your employees have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) stocked for the season to help them avoid the cold and flu germs that could take them out of commission and leave you short-handed. Utilize protective products such as physical shields, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Make sure these are placed around your pharmacy where needed. Also, make sure you have proper cleaning and disinfecting products and procedures in place (such as wiping down counters, credit-card PIN pads, and other frequently-touched surfaces at regular intervals or after each customer). Finally, consider asking employees to check their temperatures before each shift to mitigate the chance of infecting co-workers and to encourage self-care.
3. POS Software That Assists Social Distancing
The health and safety of your staff and customers can be protected not only by PPE but also by social distancing, especially when sick. Therefore, your retail pharmacy POS software should be up-to-date enough to accommodate the following social distancing practices to minimize risk when interacting with ill clients:
As payment technologies continue to advance, a growing number of customers have come to prefer contactless payment methods, such as credit or debit cards with “tap to pay” ability (as opposed to swiping or inserting and entering PINs) and e-wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay that are accessed on smartphones. These methods limit the need to handle cash or have customers touch the payment terminal. As a result, they are the perfect addition to retail pharmacies with advanced merchant service providers.
When customers are too sick to shop in person or simply don’t want to spread germs to others, they’ll be more likely to choose a store that offers eCommerce options. Allow patients to stay home by providing them with an online storefront to purchase what they need from home and utilize curbside pick-up or delivery.
Curbside Pick-Up or Delivery
When your retail pharmacy provides curbside pick-up, customers experiencing symptoms can minimize contact with staff and avoid other customers. And for customers too sick to travel, offer delivery. The mobile delivery app allows you to track orders the moment they are taken from your POS terminal or handheld system. Curbside pick-up and delivery grew in popularity during the pandemic (and were the only way some businesses could stay open), and customers appreciate — and will continue to expect — the convenience and safety of reduced contact.
4. Prepare for the Weather
To be fully prepared for cold and flu season, you need to not only stock the most needed remedies and offer safe options for staff and customers; you also have to be ready to combat the weather that brings on these illnesses and can impact store operations. Prepare for excess snow and power outages by:
- Investing in a power generator or battery-powered backup lights: Keep your lights on and your POS system up and running;
- Having a game plan in place to contact merchant service providers: Keep relevant phone numbers accessible so that if the power goes out, your providers can help you over the phone to set up manual card options and more;
- Ensuring that your staff can become a manual POS system: Help them conduct transactions manually with keys and access to the cash drawer, a calculator, a transaction book, and a purchase receipt book with carbon-copy pages.
Lean on Technology to Survive the Season
Cold and flu season can keep your retail pharmacy as busy as the holiday rush. Proper preparation takes work. But when you have the latest POS technology, your tasks — from inventory management to socially distanced shopping and payment options — become much more manageable. Let your inventory communicate that customers can count on you when they need it most.
Work with a team who knows how to get your pharmacy POS system updated quickly. Contact Auto-Star to explore the options that best fit your store’s unique needs.