10 Strategies that you absolutely must implement if you want to continue to grow your Pharmacy in the Ksa despite the looming crisis
Up until now the pharmacy business in the KSA has been thriving. All you had to do was open a shop to be able to make a profit. There weren’t many pharmacies and there was a higher demand for medicine and healthcare products than was being offered.
The first to open pharmacies grew quickly as did the number of stores. Some preferred to keep to a small number within a particular city, others grew, and today manage a large number of pharmacies throughout the nation and will expand into other states. The fact is, that in Saudi Arabia there are thousands of pharmacies inside shopping malls, on the high-street and in both private and public hospitals.
… IDENTICAL pharmacies if not in their design then in the division of space, products on offer and approach.
The majority of pharmacies in the KSA have large disorganized shop floors, with a few demotivated members of staff. Items are piled on top of each other from the entrance, with little or no services on offer and not much communication. It definitely isn’t a place where you would go with your loved ones to find healthcare products, more somewhere you go when you really have to. You go to the pharmacy when you have to buy medicine (22% of Saudi clients go to the pharmacy each week because they have a chronic illness) and they leave as soon as possible… this is bad for business!
People go to the pharmacy because they have to, not because they want to, even if there’s nothing wrong with going into a pharmacy in search of wellbeing! Don’t we take care of ourselves to feel good, to be happy and make our loved ones happy? No, healthcare in Saudi Arabia is still something that is far from the heart of the pharmacy, something to find elsewhere. Where? I have not been able to find easy-to-reach places in Saudi Arabia that offer professional healthcare services and products.
Pharmacies today have a great opportunity
Talking to pharmacists at their counters the first thing I notice is that their main objective is to hand out medicine and receive payment but they don’t bother to get to know the customers and help them with their choice of product. They limit themselves to showing people where things are, nothing more. Such service is not down to the pharmacist, it is about how the pharmacy is organized and managed. People think that customers are only interested in getting the products they already know or that they need and then leaving! Are we sure about this? Are we really convinced that customers in Saudi Arabia are that different from other consumers across the world and that, being ever-more knowledgeable thanks to the internet and the media, are looking for new products and solutions to live better and for longer?
I know this is not the case. I am 100% sure that the Arabian client knows very well thanks to the information that they read every day, that products and services that can better their lives and the lives of their loved ones and they are ready to buy them. Everyone wants wellbeing, we all want to be happy!
I see pharmacies all over the world, independent and chains, which have existed for 20 years. Today I am the head of a family business, Sartoretto Verna™ that lives and breathes architecture and solutions for pharmacies. Our objective is to create winning pharmacies and in this article I’d like to explain how to multiply your profits and differentiate from the competition. I really care about the success of our clients and I work every day to make sure it happens. I have had the fortune of travelling across the world inheriting a company that is highly focused on the pharmacy business and I feel that I can be of use to people like me, who have people’s wellbeing at heart. This is what pharmacies have to do: take care of people. For years I have worked to create pharmacies where people feel good, places that attract new clients because it makes them happy. Professional stores, nice places where it’s pleasurable to spend time, that attract and are unique in their product offers and services. High profiting pharmacies.
For the third year Sartoretto Verna™ had present at the Saudi Health in Riyadh, the largest health exhibition in Saudi Arabia. Over the past 3 years I have met many people, mostly mangers or owners of independent and chain pharmacies in clinics and private hospitals. We have created many pharmacies throughout the Kingdom, from Riyadh to Damman, from Al Kobar to Jeddah and I want to explain WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU to make your business stronger, to get more customers and to grow you profits.
As a businessman I know what keeps you awake at night: clouds on the horizon of your economic growth in Saudi Arabia, the crisis is near. After years of hard and relentless work growing your business, hard times are ahead. People are worried about the economy shrinking and that purchase rates have dropped in Saudi Arabia by 20% in the last few years. If you think that families won’t be able to take care of their wellbeing you’re wrong. You know very well that the ROI on medicine sales is low and that there will be a reduced demand for hygiene products, children’s’ items, healthcare and beauty. As an Italian citizen who has lived and observed a crisis in Italy since 2008, I can say that you will know how to make the most of the wind of change turning your sails to the wind as oppose to finding obstacles in your way and you have a great opportunity…but you have to change your strategy.
Up until now you have limited yourself to replicating the business model that you know, the pharmacy that you know: the American drugstore. If you want to distinguish yourself from the competition you will first have to answer one question:
Why should customers continue to choose my pharmacy?
- Because of the price? NO, it will always be cheaper somewhere else
- Because it’s handy to have a pharmacy close to work or home? NO, it will be even easier to have things sent
- Because they enjoy going to the pharmacy, they get professional services, they can find new offers, get advice on products, and have a unique experience? This certainly doesn’t happen in the pharmacies in Saudi Arabia but it is what your clients expect and you will have to get yourself organized if you don’t want to lose out!
During our days in Riyadh, together with my staff we met many business owners who all told us the same thing: “medicines are not highly profitable, we must reinvent ourselves, we need to find a new business model. Other areas such as cosmetics are much more profitable. Moreover, the competition in the pharmacy market is ever-more intense”.
Some business owners complained about the choice of interiors for their pharmacy: “We used Turkish companies because we thought we could save money. They came to install the interiors and then they left. Things are now breaking, the lights aren’t working and we can’t find any spare parts”.
I’m asking you to change your point of view and ask yourself NOT what you can do for your clients but what does your business really need? What do you want to see? What will happen when medicines like other products can be sent straight to the patient’s house as is already the case in the most European companies? What reason will clients have to go to a pharmacy?
Pharmacies re-sell. They sell other people’s products, they are not a well-known brand and they don’t manage their own business. If you want to be successful in future you will have to take this article seriously and put a new strategy in place whose objective will be the search for a differentiating position on the market of your pharmacy (independent or chain). I’m asking you to stop thinking about how to open or renovate your pharmacy with the least amount of economic investment possible and start thinking about how to invest to get the best profit.
I have collected many testimonials from pharmacies that we have created in the KSA. I have spoken to pharmacists, I have observed them, I have observed their customers’ behavior, I have spoken to the managers and I have analyzed the data. Thanks to my observations I can confidently list:
10 STRATEGIES THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST IMPLEMENT IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO GROW YOUR PHARMACY IN KSA DESPITE THE LOOMING CRISIS
- Transform your company into a BRAND. Find something you are specialized in and identify your target audience.
- Offer a unique experience in a high quality and professional environment. Welcome your customers.
- Illuminate your products and make them stand out.
- Communicate your offer on 3 distinct levels (category, brand/subcategory and price)
- Offer healthcare and professional beauty services at the right price
- Suggest unique products and services that bear your brand name
- Reduce the size of your stores (250sqm), save on rent and use it to offer better services
- Increase the number of specialized staff. Give them a better workplace and offer rewards when objectives are met.
- Take your clients’ needs to heart, listen to them and make them happy.
- Create a client list and work on marketing (ecommerce, joint ventures, web marketing)
BELIEVE ME! The right implementation of just one of these tips will multiply your profit.
We have created a variety of practical guides that you can download free from our blog
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Seeing is believing.
Arch. Luca Sartoretto Verna CEO Sartoretto Verna Srl
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