Factors determining competitiveness in urban independent pharmacies : a descriptive analysis
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.
In South Africa, the retail pharmacy market has changed dramatically with the introduction of legislation allowing a non-pharmacist to own a pharmacy as well as the regulation of medicine prices, which has affected the profitability of independent community pharmacies. These regulations have caused a shift in the status quo in that major corporate retailers have successfully entered the retail pharmacy market. The independent community pharmacy owner has to manage and finance his/her own pharmacy and does not have access to vast financial resources such as the major corporates forcing some of them to close down. The aim of the research was to investigate in more detail the competitive strategies independent community pharmacies have in place by utilising qualitative empirical research to address the main research question and research objectives. All the respondents acknowledged the importance of personal customer service as a key success factor in their strategic planning process. The research results showed that independent community pharmacies cannot compete with corporate-owned pharmacies on their dispensary as they do not have the financial resources in comparison to corporate retailers. Respondents realized that by leveraging their front-shop offering and offering products to customers based on their needs and wants, they will be in a better position to compete. In order to attract and retain their customers, the respondents recognised the significance of offering value-added services to suit the needs of the community. Respondents highlighted the importance of understanding the market to improve their business as well as moving from a convenience store to a one-stop destination store for customers. Although the respondents agreed that marketing one’s products, services and promotions were important in order to create awareness of their offering, and considered a definite method to attract new customers to the store, some pharmacy owners stated they were not financially in a position to do so. Employee retention is currently not a concern due to low turnover, with respondents feeling that the current work atmosphere and culture are conducive to the retention of staff. Research results showed that proper inventory management is essential in order to ensure that the product offering addresses the needs of the clientele. Respondents seem to be concerned that further legislative changes may adversely affect their profit margins but appear to be hopeful regarding their sustainability into the future. The research highlighted the value of managerial capability and expertise enabling independent community pharmacies to pose a viable threat to the corporate retailer operating within its vicinity. To ensure competitiveness in the retail pharmacy sector, the independent community pharmacy needs to adapt and continue to redefine itself in the face of significant challenges in the health landscape by developing a sustainable strategy based on the following recommendations: - Expanding front-shop retail. - Offering value-added services. - Implement integrated business solutions. - Create brand awareness with an increased marketing presence. - Sponsor employee training interventions and/or attendance at industry seminars. - Implement employee incentive programmes. - Having defined and documented standard operating procedures and processes in place. - Joining buying groups in an attempt to increase buying power.