Materials, design, space operational effectiveness...
During an era of inertia and waiting for tomorrow’s developments, in a world plagued by the pandemic, can we consider pharmacy renovation? What solutions should we focus on?
Today, perhaps more than ever, pharmacists may think that space renovation is not a necessity, mainly due to the pandemic but also for financial reasons.
At the same time, however, the pharmacy, as a store, needs to evolve and be renewed in order to be attractive to the customer.
This article summarizes the sensitive dilemma that pharmacies face, which are also called upon not to forget their basic mission.
So beware, the image of safety and seriousness they have to project, even via space and furniture renovation, may be disturbed by incorrect choices, such as cheap and very sophisticated materials.
Is the tendency of procrastination regarding the renovation of pharmacies in recent years justified?
It is true that the issue of renovation does not necessarily come to the mind of professionals who do not know what tomorrow will bring.
The main concern is that of maximum return on investment, in a context of reduced budgets and the reluctance of banks to lend, data to which the architecture companies themselves have to adapt. The golden age is over!
In this tense and difficult context, there are many pitfalls. Some minor change and space reordering proposals do not offer much, while, on the contrary, a quality total renovation solution will be more expensive, but more profitable in the long run.
The best investment is not always the cheapest, but the one that will allow the pharmacy to grow its business.
The stages can be determined, depending on the budget, taking into account the direction set in advance.
The requirements of economic efficiency can therefore converge towards a better long-term vision.
After all, the right space architecture professionals are in favor of emphasizing the importance of the study before any renovation process, which is in line with the pharmacy's strategy, having previously had a discussion and investigation with the pharmacist.
Scientific image-New services-Commercial success
These are the three parameters that characterize the current pharmacy and based on which any renovation should commence.
Our first concern should be the comfort of the customer-patient.
Easy access to the store even for people with disabilities, unobstructed corridors, parking and rest areas are essential.
The renovation should focus on maintaining the scientific image that the pharmacy space emits and differentiates it from other retail stores.
Of course, this does not mean a cold and faceless place like a hospital, but any modern note added, should not go beyond this framework.
In recent years, the pharmacy has emerged as a place to provide health services.
Vaccinations, blood pressure measurements, patient education in measuring blood sugar, are just a few of these services.
Therefore, designated internal areas will make the patient feel safe, but also ensure confidentiality.
But the pharmacy is also a commercial space which should "play" a little with the psychology of customers, in order to achieve the corresponding sale.
For example, the furniture of the space should be such that it highlights the health and beauty products in the space.
On the contrary, prescription drugs do not need to be exposed because they do not cause spontaneous purchases anyway, they create a negative image in the customer as they are combined with diseases, emit odors and are visually tiring due to many different shapes and box colors.
A beautiful built-in chest of drawers solves all these problems.
Pharmacy with character and differentiation
Due to increased competition, renovation should aim to diversify in order to attract more customers.
The pharmacy should reflect a personal image. A space, for example, that is oriented to the natural way of life can make a difference, using ecological and recyclable materials, but also colors and images from nature.
Renovation from the outside and back
When we talk about renovation our thoughts are automatically focused on the store’s interior.
Wrong! The first image that a new customer will see is the facade. Then he will decide whether or not to enter our pharmacy, at least the first time.
By maintaining the legally binding elements, we can enrich the exterior, with elements that are connected to its interior and refer to its different character.
The colors that will be used externally should match the rest of the building, so as not to disturb the uniformity. The green element and the pharmacy cross cannot be missing.
In any renovation, let us not omit the areas that are not visible to the customer.
The modernization of the laboratory and the storage spaces, helps in better organization of our work.
Renovation for longer duration and flexibility
Undoubtedly, timelessness has become synonymous with evolution over time, but a small renewal or restructuring has always impact on the turnover.
However, it is not easy for most pharmacists to renew their space every few years.
Therefore, the solution, now available from most designers, consists of a basic long-lasting structure, decorated with flexible elements.
As a result, there is the possibility of renewing the space at a lower cost and all that is needed, over time, is its configuration and completion with equipment that is in line with developments.
All the decoration can be serious, communicative but also, occasionally, "fancy".
All equipment must also provide communication support, from optics and colors to signage, which can be renewed at will.
So you can give a dynamic image to your pharmacy, while providing the best possible information to your customers and, at the same time, give a fancy image occasionally, using digital prints on your classic furniture.
When a shake is necessary
A number of indicators should motivate the pharmacist to undertake a renovation:
Turnover reduction, a new pharmacy nearby, a non-adaptable work tool necessary for a growing activity, new needs or changes in product and service visibility, or even very simply, the desire to boost the mood for him, his team and his customers.
After a renovation, pharmacists are happier and stay longer in the sales area.
- Consider possible future changes to the original layout
The current situation is characterized by a lack of timely forecasting for the market’s future.
That leads pharmacists to prefer realistic solutions that must quickly prove their effectiveness and, in addition, be flexible to adapt to new data.
However, to avoid investing in something that will not be sustainable in the long run, it is advisable to consider different models for changing your space when initially planning a renovation.
Thus, you can imagine a basic structure that will remain viable, while being able to technically integrate future rearrangement possibilities.
Thus, although the costs may be initially higher, the investment will pay off when changes need to be made that would require substantial work, if they were not foreseen at first.
- Use elements that can be changed to transform the space
As pharmacists, you must live up to the consumer expectations.
Although the health area may be separate, pharmacies respond to the same stimuli of consumers as other businesses.
So, purple can be fashionable one season, old fashioned the next...
So you have to be creative, using various decorative elements, which are easy to move or change, depending on the seasons and fashion.
- Do not neglect the back office
If there is one saving that should not be done, it is the one that concerns the organization of the back office, because that is where it all starts.
As that is the space to be used in the long run, you can choose solid furniture.
But it is also possible to envisage the implementation of future services in this area, for example, a consulting cabin or an automation system.
Haris Konstantopoulos, Pharmacist,
MSc Pharmaceutical Marketing