The COVID-19 pandemic has presented major challenges for retail pharmacies and fundamentally changed the industry. While we appear to be beyond the era of lockdowns that characterized the peak of the crisis, many of the changes are here to stay.
The pandemic intensified and accelerated several trends that were already on the rise in retail pharmacies. Let’s take a look at a few of those pharmacy industry trends and how they will shape 2023 and beyond!
Expanding the health care services offered at pharmacies
During the pandemic, pharmacists were called upon to help mitigate the severe shortage of health care workers. They provided access to rapid tests and contributed significantly to the mass vaccination campaign that got us past the stage of acute crisis.
Many jurisdictions have been endowing pharmacists with additional powers in recent years in an effort to alleviate the burden on the overtaxed healthcare system and provide patients with easier access to care. In Quebec, for example, pharmacists are allowed to renew prescriptions in certain cases, substitute prescribed medications in the event of supply disruptions, administer vaccines and more.
This is an industry trend that will continue in 2023 and beyond, with retail pharmacies increasingly becoming community hubs for basic and preventive care. The shift to providing more care will only be possible if pharmacists can take advantage of technology to save time on other tasks.
The pandemic coincided with an increasingly severe labor shortage that left businesses of all kinds struggling to maintain their operations. This led to major supply chain disruptions that made it difficult to access even basic necessities such as medications and food items.
In these circumstances, it has become more and more important for retail pharmacies to invest in technology that can reduce labor requirements and keep a close eye on inventory. With electronic shelf labels, prices can be updated automatically, eliminating the need for employees to spend hours manually changing labels.
ESLs can also be integrated with sales management software to help track inventory and restock items. They can flash to guide employees to products with low stock levels and display information such as the last order date and quantity, planned delivery dates, average quantities and sales, etc. This digital pricing technology can make a big difference when it comes to pharmacy inventory management.
Offering e-commerce options
The pandemic also drastically accelerated the trend of online ordering, as people tried to limit their exposure by avoiding entering brick and mortar stores. Pharmacies, along with other retailers, had to adapt quickly to provide delivery and click and collect services.
Here again, electronic shelf labels can help, with flashing lights accompanied by a geolocation tool to guide order pickers to the correct items. The technology can save employees up to 10 seconds per pick, streamlining the order fulfillment process.
Online ordering is another pharmacy industry trend that’s here to stay. Even as the fear of viral exposure diminishes, customers continue to appreciate it for its convenience. It also benefits housebound, sick and elderly individuals, making it easier for them to receive their medications and other essentials on time.
Stay on top of retail pharmacy industry trends with ESLs from JRTech!
Going digital is key for pharmacies to adapt to the new retail landscape, challenges and customer expectations that have become the norm since the pandemic. Electronic shelf labels are versatile tools that can help retail pharmacies weather labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and more!
JRTech Solutions is North America’s leading supplier of electronic shelf labels. If you’re interested in technological solutions to improve your operational efficiency and keep up with industry trends, contact us today!