How network audio and video solutions support the evolution of retail pharmacies

The physical retail industry is constantly looking at ways to use technology to tackle their biggest challenges, especially when faced with increasing competition from online counterparts. The retail pharmacy sector is no exception and due to market shifts and changing restrictions, some have undergone a bit of an evolution. They have moved beyond simply distributing pharmaceuticals to offering a range of products and services including in-house medical consultations with customers.

As the complexity and hybridisation of these stores continue, it is critical for you to implement the right technology to support operations, improve security and deal with loss prevention, ultimately supporting a positive in-store experience.

From loss prevention to regulation compliance, pharmacies have particular needs

The increasingly multipurpose nature of pharmacies requires different types of solutions. As with other retail stores, network audio and video solutions can support you with meeting your security objectives; whether this be monitoring and deterring antisocial or aggressive behavior or alerting staff to incidents so they can facilitate interventions by security teams. Specifically for loss prevention, you can use cameras equipped with analytics at checkout areas, storage facilities and exits to detect suspicious activity.

Due to the storage and distribution of controlled medication, it is crucial to implement even closer inventory monitoring in certain areas of your pharmacy to ensure that medicine is counted and dispensed in compliance with regulation. This also extends to the delivery area to ensure that the right procedures are followed by logistics organizations and those receiving the pharmaceuticals. External security audits can be performed at certain times, so it is critical that the right processes are in place to prevent fines or disruptions to trading.

Although your pharmacy requires tighter security measures due to the nature of the stock, high quality customer service is also critical for the same reason. Customers may wish to have sensitive and private conversations with your staff about the medications they have been prescribed or about their condition. Being able to attend to them quickly and empathetically will ensure you build deeper relationships.

Customer experience gives physical pharmacies a competitive edge

Pharmacies have had an interesting journey. First starting off as dedicated stores where customers could purchase over-the-counter and prescribed medications and then offering services such as vaccinations and health monitoring. However, many retail pharmacies still lack the ability to capitalize on personal interactions – especially with trained staff – which customers value. In fact, according to a report done by AmerisourceBergen, pharmacists estimated that only 10% of their time was spent counselling customers.

This could undermine the success of your business. While online pharmacies have risen in popularity by providing an efficient and effective service, they lack the personal touch of a face-to-face interaction. If you can provide an excellent customer experience coupled with the convenience of collecting medicines – and other products – immediately, this provides an advantage to help keep you in business. This is especially true for nervous or concerned customers who appreciate patience and empathy.

A variety of integrated network video solutions suit many purposes

Looking closer at your overall pharmacy environment, it’s clear that the complexity of your premises requires a slightly different technology approach.

  • Customer care and privacy

From a customer service perspective, implementing the right in-store technology will be critical to enabling staff to spend valuable time with customers. Network audio and video solutions including analytics can help streamline workflows and improve efficiency, such as detecting when someone is waiting for help and alert a member of staff to attend to them quickly. This prompt attention could help reassure your customers. Customer privacy in consultation areas is also a key concern and implementing solutions which protect personal identity without compromising security will reassure shoppers.

  • Medical dispensary and delivery areas

Within the medical dispensary, access control solutions can help you manage which members of staff are able to open cabinets storing controlled or scheduled medicines, while locking other cabinets. By limiting access to medication storage areas, pharmacies can reduce the risk of theft and inventory loss, which can be costly. Access control solutions can also help you track who is accessing medication storage areas and when, which can increase accountability and help deter theft or misuse of medications.

In terms of dispensing medicine, this must be done in accordance with the local legislation and technology can be used to support compliance. Cameras mounted in these areas can monitor whether the right amount of medicine has been dispensed in alignment with the prescription.

Another area of concern is the delivery zone. Wearable cameras can be used by your staff to ensure that the products or medicines are received and recorded in the right way and procedures are followed. This becomes even more critical during a forensic investigation following an incident.

  • Security and operations

Technology can also support operational processes such as in-store queue management to minimize customer frustration, shelf monitoring to alert staff as to when a product is running low or analytics at self-checkout areas to detect non-scanning of items. Insights from the data gathered on footfall, store occupancy and staffing levels can also inform your future planning.

Safety and security will always be at the top of your priority list and it’s crucial to use solutions which best support your staff. Firstly, public view monitors placed at the entrance in your pharmacy will remind customers that they are being monitored, which can help deter theft and aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

In the event of an incident, employees will need to alert and communicate with security teams – either on-site or remotely – to keep them updated. In turn, security team members may need to relay instructions to staff to help manage an evolving situation. Solutions with two-way audio capabilities can support this dialogue to enable the best outcomes.

Pharmacies will continue to expand their offering

Like convenience stores, pharmacies will continue to evolve to offer an array of services to customers. In addition, these have their own needs due to the medication which is stored and dispensed there – which means that security and monitoring is critical.

However, you must still ensure that your shoppers have a safe, convenient and enjoyable experience in your store to help keep them coming back. Network video solutions can support these endeavours, by helping you tackle loss prevention, compliance with regulation and creating a secure atmosphere. This will help your business grow and remain profitable for years to come.

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