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- Issue 81: April 2009
- Issue 80: March 2009
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Retail: Top End, or Dumb Down?

Chris Wright
Dispensary Systems Perspective

Issue 80: March 2009
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The old and historically rich little suburb in which Mrs Wright and I reside has an interesting social demographic which consists of four main groups.

1.Old locals that show no real animosity to invaders.
2.Average type folk like us that came here years ago before the rush.
3.CUBSWAMM (Cashed Up Bogan’s With A Monster Mortgage).
4.Breathtakingly well off folk.

A tidy little development has just been completed that has a number of shops getting up close and personal with Coles. Butcher, Baker & Delicatessen are internal and a new Pharmacy has street frontage next to a Bank. The Pharmacy and the Bank have relocated from elsewhere in town. It’s a bit complex because the Pharmacy owner has opted to change to a higher profile brand………..now owning two within a nifty handball of the front door of Coles……..apologies for the analogy to those in NSW and of course my old mate Rollo, who is convinced footy should be played by girls in a ballet class.

I mean not to bore you with this trivia, but the background is important to the point of the story. The Butcher, Baker & Delicatessen provide an interesting insight.

The Butcher has seriously dumbed down. The sausages look like something the kids at the primary school have made out of plasticine. In fact, they look to be of a standard that would give those at Coles some sort of an award. The rest of the produce on offer is presented in a manner that sort of indicates they want to compete with Coles…….real lowest common denominator stuff.
This strikes me as a bit odd, because the only other Butcher in town other than in the Supermarkets is the most expensive in the free World……and very busy.

The Baker is a franchise and has moved from another local location, probably to try and build sales, despite the fact a competing franchise is well established close by.

The Delicatessen has taken the opposite approach to the Butcher. This is serious quality, cured meats from boutique low volume suppliers, an excellent cheese range and plenty of other produce not commonly found…….the CUBSWAMM’s will just love being seen browsing and discussing the nuances of dried cuts of meat, of which they probably know little. The well off folk will no doubt provide solid support.

The fact that the Butcher and Delicatessen have elected to present in a manner that will attract a different demographic to each is probably going to ultimately hurt them both.

One of them has got it wrong, maybe both, for not talking to each other.

The pharmacy is a different kettle of fish. The retail fit-out would pay for Kevin 747’s handouts and return change. Very impressive. After all, why not get under the skin of Coles by setting up shop next door, spending up big on a fit-out and grinning at the dollars rolling in……..sell to Coles in a couple of years for the price of a 747 and still own the pharmacy over the road, which I might add is the busiest in town.
Good thinking, 99.

I tell you this less than electrifying story simply to provide an insight into the different thinking people have of retail trends.

At a time when Pharmacy is considering the impact the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission’s interim report –“A Healthier Future for All Australia.”, pharmacies are seemingly prepared to invest heavily in retail, possibly to the detriment of what they might offer as a care aspect.

I wonder why? Especially in light of the fact the report shows signs of reigning in the power the medical profession has taken for granted for decades.

It seems a bit strange to me that Pharmacy does not appear to be prepared to take the primary care coal face high ground at a time when the all powerful AMA just might lose the initiative in light of the attitude of the aforementioned report.

Pharmacists are very good at talking up the “care” they provide, but less so at positioning their business in a way that convinces the punters and makes money.

On talk-back radio recently the presenter asked a young pharmacist who has a regular spot the following very loaded question;

“So, if anybody has a problem they would like to discuss they can go and talk to the local pharmacist for free?”

The answer was also loaded;

“Absolutely, the pharmacist is your friend”.

At this rate, fee for service is light years away, as is a consensus as to where Pharmacy should position itself in what is essentially a retail environment.

Chris Wright.

March 2009.





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