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Change is Afoot!

Simon Hambrecht – Technology

Welcome to the first edition of ITK Connect. In the past editions of ITK, I have written about processes and strategies you, as the pharmacy owner, can implement into your businesses to help with the challenging times we are experiencing now and can expect into the future.

This year I will be focusing on what is topical to our industry and to the retail sector in general — whether it be economical or one of those “touchy” subjects that no one really wants to discuss or admit to.

Ironically, this platform — ITK Connect — is very pertinent to my first column as it involves technology and how we use it in our industry.

There has been a lot spoken about in various industry journals about the technologies available and how they could be adapted to the retail, and therefore the pharmacy, sectors.

It doesn’t have to be outlandish technologies, such as Google Glass, being used to enhance our businesses but the simple, and often free, technology we can adapt to gain efficiencies and better productivity.

There are often people — business owners, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Assistants — who dismiss the use of these technologies in our pharmacies with a simple “that won’t work in our store” or “it’ll be too expensive to implement” or, my favourite, “our customers won’t like that being used”.

Let me debunk all of these notions. Firstly, how do you know it won’t work if you don’t try? Too often we assume without even trying to implement it. I believe people come to this assumption for 2 reasons:

  1. They don’t understand the technology chosen and aren’t prepared to learn about it (fully) before implementing it. It is easier to dismiss it.
  2. They don’t use the technology themselves and therefore adopt the assumption that “if I don’t use it, no one else does”.

The second of these assumptions has been proven to be just that — an assumption. Bunnings Warehouse have been creating a culture of “breeding knowledge” between the generations they employ. The older “tradies” are teaching their younger Team Members their skills as they would if they had an apprentice. In exchange, the younger generation have been teaching their older teammates all about these new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. This has resulted in not only a higher staff retention rate (85% of their labour force), but now have the older tradies teaching customers, on their smartphones, how to DIY.

Here’s an interesting fact I recently learned: Did you know that over 80% of transactions are influenced by digital technology prior to a customer purchasing?

Australian retail, and unfortunately (like it or not) that includes us, are a long way behind the likes of the United States and Europe when it comes to how technology can be used to enhance our customers’ shopping experience.

Here’s a thought: How are you using social media platforms in your business? Who is driving your social media strategy? Are they proficient in these platforms?

The power of social media is almighty, however, it needs to be in the hands of someone who is proficient in using the platform. It’s not to say they shouldn’t been overseen as it is vital they don’t compromise your business and its image in the public arena, but they are better equipped to deliver your business results through creative content.

How many of you have incorporated platforms such as Skype to enhance your customers’ instore experience? This again is another platform that is greatly under-utilised in our industry and one that can, if used in the right manner, make a world of difference.

Until we, as an industry, change and start fully embracing these types of technologies and really start to create a retail theatre, we won’t be able to drive our retail areas through enhanced shopping experiences.

Retailers in this country are overcomplicating retail. It’s not about the physical store competing against the online store. At the end of the day, shoppers are just wanting to shop as a recreational experience. It is for this reason, the physical store will always come up trumps against the online stores.

I leave you with this thought – if you don’t change your business now, you will not be here in the future. What are you really doing to adapt to the new conditions? Are you someone who is using the assumptions I outlined earlier?

Until next edition, Simon Hambrecht

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