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3 Ways to Create a Campus Store Your Students  Want to Visit

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting

Published: November 17, 2017

 

The bookstore has been an institution on campus for years, but with a new generation – Gen Z – heading to campuses, it’s time to look at it with a fresh perspective. If you were a student from Generation Z walking into a traditional bookstore, you probably feel like it’s not super exciting as you’re looking for somewhere to kick back with friends. 

Gen Z wants (and likely expects) a spot where they can grab a coffee, plug into a laptop and get to work or maybe socialize. And if they’re going to shop, they’re not interested in lineups, as they can get the same thing online and delivered within days (or maybe less).

When you look at it this way, you quickly see that the expectations of Gen Z are vastly different than the generations that came before them.

This group has grown up with technology in every aspect of their lives, and the old bricks and mortar store is not a draw like it once was. So what’s a campus bookstore to do? How do they change the model to make it more appealing? It starts with creating a destination, not just a store.

Here are three ways to create a campus bookstore that students actually want to visit:

 

1. Make it Social 

Gen Zers are always on. 46% of them are considered true “digital natives” and it’s estimated that they are connected 10 or more hours a day. Whether it’s texting, Snapchat or Instagram, people in this generation spend most of their waking hours connected to everything. This constant connection has one key offshoot – it means that you have to compete for their attention. With the ability to move from one thing to the next in seconds, it creates a smaller window for a retailer to not only grab their attention, but keep it for more than a few minutes. 

Gen Z are literally super social. So the bookstore needs to be too! And for the bookstore to be relevant it needs to be online and engaging in social media so it extends past the physical space. One way to do this is by using student ambassadors. Ambassadors have the ability to get on social media and talk about the store such as what’s new, what’s coming soon, whatever is fun and interesting that is happening on site. The goal is to make the store THE place to be on campus.

2. Sell Interesting Products

One thing we know about Generation Z is that sameness is just not interesting. They shun conformity, so a boring old regular bookstore is just not enough to draw them in. They want more than just books. The bookstore needs to have things that are popular and current, and they have HIGH expectations.

In a recent study, 57% of Generation Z indicated they would rather have something unique versus something popular. To meet these expectations, retailers need to think about what these customers REALLY want to buy, and what will keep them coming back over and over again.

There’s an opportunity with these customers to leverage different retail trends to stay relevant. Be it a pop-up shop, seasonal promotions, curated collections of exclusive products, products that make their lives easier, what they all want is the same. Products that are different, quirky, interesting, fun or cool.

3. Create a Destination

Another interesting point about Generation Z is that products matter less than experiences. More importantly, they want to be able to share these experiences with other like-minded individuals. So how does this want for experiences impact retailers?

It means that retailers have to focus less on being a store, and more on being a destination. Somewhere they go, but also somewhere they choose to stay.

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An example of this sort of destination store would be Urban Outfitters. They don’t just sell one thing. While it’s main merchandise is clothing, they have a vast array of other things available – housewares, gifts, office type supplies, cosmetics, a music selection and so much more.

So while you may start off in there just looking for a t-shirt, the likelihood of you staying and browsing with your friends is high. And since there’s something for everyone, it can then become a group activity where you are not only shopping, but you are hanging out with your friends at the same time.

 

The reality of the campus bookstore is that as technology has changed, so have expectations. To continue to build revenue streams campuses need to keep the store relevant and keep students interested in coming to the store more often than just at the beginning of the semester.

Blue Marble Consulting has considerable experience working with institutions to modernize their bookstore. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A New Generation is Heading to University: Is Your Campus Store Ready?

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting

Published: November 9, 2017

 

Students that graduated high school in June this year are the last group born in the 20th century and they’re the first generation to be growing up immersed in technology. This next generation, known as Generation Z, is defined as those born between 1995 and 2012.

Because Gen Z is in it’s early stages, there are many unknowns about how they will shape up as a group. What we do know is that they have money to spend but are a little more reluctant to part with it versus previous generations. Also, they have high expectation of retailers, which is likely because they have a myriad of shopping options at their fingertips. This makes Gen Z even more discerning about what they spend on. 

Over the past decade we’ve learned a lot about Millennials, but Gen Z has some clear differences. These differences will require retailers of all kinds to understand their needs and preferences. For the campus bookstore, this will be integral to getting a headstart on getting  your campus store Generation Z ready. Here are FIVE things you need to know about Gen Z for your campus store of the future:

 

1) Technology in Their DNA

Digital is in Gen Z’s DNA. Bookstores need to be supporting and selling technology, and using social media to meet them where they already are.  In a 2015 survey, 45% of respondents said they pay the most attention to online video ads, and that they are 29% more likely than Millennials to make an electronic purchase.

This means having an online presence for your campus store is key to engaging with these future customers. This can be an e-commerce store, or via relevant social media channels, but you need something to meet their expectations.

2) Frugal Spending Habits

For the most part, Gen Z is frugal with their cash, with 39% preferring to save their money. This means your bookstore is going to have to work harder to get them to part with their dollars.  

This generation wants to know they’re getting the best possible value and that what they’re spending their money on is worth it. Overall, Gen Z is less impulsive with purchases. This group tends to look beyond the price of an item, and consider things like if it includes free shipping, future discounts or no hassle returns.

3) Simple Style

Overall, this Gen Z likes a simpler style, so campus wear should reflect this. They value practicality and ease. You need only to look at brands like Lululemon and UnderArmour to see this in action.

Clothes that historically would have been considered sportswear are now part of everyday wardrobes. Updating the style of campus wear to reflect this trend means more potential to get the Gen Zers to spend in your store.

4) Research and More Research

Gen Z does their homework before they buy. They tend to research online before going to the store, and when they go to the store, they want to ensure the item meets their needs. Interestingly, once they’re  in the store, the purpose isn’t necessarily to buy it right that moment. According to a 2016 survey, 58% of the teens surveyed said they go to a retail store because they want to see and feel what they are considering buying.  Retailers need to be able to provide the level of detail on each item this generation is looking for and take into account they may need to work harder to convince Gen Zers to actually purchase.

5) Personalized Experiences

Research has showed that this generation likes to have experiences and be able to get involved in things. This can be applicable to what they do in the store or what products the store has to offer.  The value they find is more in the feeling that something is unique, or can be shared with friends.

Generation Z is looking for ways to show individuality in a world where social media makes it seem like everyone has already been there, done that.  They seek uniqueness in the brands they do business with. A good example of this in action is Converse’s Blank Canvas workshop that allows shoppers to personalize their shoes. They work with a designer to create their dream shoe with their own customizations from lace color to adding doodles, studs or other accents.  

The workshop, in their Soho store in New York City, is an extension of the same capability they offer online. Best of all, customizing your shoes is affordable with customizations costing about $25 to $45 per shoe.

 

 

When it comes to appealing to Gen Z, each of these differences are critical to future success of the campus bookstore. Stores need to be ready with a solid plan in place to ensure they are ready to best serve the needs of this new group of students.

 

Blue Marble Consulting has considerable experience working with institutions to modernize their campus retail. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Redefining the Role of Your Campus Bookstore

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting

Published: October 31, 2017

 

The bookstore’s role on campus is changing. While the bookstore has always been an integral revenue stream for colleges and universities, it has seen a steady decline over the last decade. With the introduction of more technology, the bookstore has become less relevant for a new generation of students.

Once upon a time, the bookstore was the only source for educational material. Now, with the advent of online shopping, students have a plethora of options when it comes to getting their books.

The campus bookstore was also the place to go to get insignia gear. But now, with literally hundreds of shopping choices right at their fingertips, what does the store have left to offer?

So what’s a campus bookstore to do? Add products other than books? Add ecommerce and other technology to attract Gen Z into their store? Improve the ambiance so it’s a hip and fun place to hang out.

While these are great, viable options, it all comes down to one question. How do you make the changes needed to keep up with Gen Z and make your store a destination for more than just books? Here are some best practices for redefining the role of your bookstore:

 

Listen and Implement: Campus bookstores are facing more competition than ever, and Gen Z has certain expectations. As part of that, they expect retailers to cater to their wants while also listening to them.

Now, the competition isn’t just for their dollars, but for their attention as well. As a result, it’s not enough for any retailer to maintain the status quo.

The bookstore, like any other retailer, has the opportunity to create a strong brand experience by listening and responding to their customers. Whether it’s the demand for specific product line or a destination that creates a unique experience, Gen Z is sending a loud and clear message about what they want.

One way to start to address this is by asking for customer feedback. Retailers – even the campus bookstore – need to take the opportunity to hear what their customers have to say. Gathering this feedback can be done in a variety of ways such as via social media channels, an in-store survey, or point of sale data collection. But whatever the method, it needs to be easy. Gen Z wants to tell you what they are thinking.

 

Learn from Best Practice Retailers: Bigger retailers have greater resources to understand the needs and shopping habits of Gen Z, so take a page from best practice retailers that perform well with this audience.

Gen Z has money to spend, and they care about where they spend it. They are looking for brands that aren’t only authentic, but also something that lines up with their values. They want a brand who represents who they are.

Kate Spade, which is well-known as a luxury brand, performs well with Gen Z. While it may seem counterintuitive that you have teenagers spending big dollars on things like purses, there’s a reason they gravitate towards the this brand. A few years ago, the retailer partnered with Anna Kendrick in a series of branded videos. Showing a familiar and relatable celebrity to promote their brand brought Kate Spade to an entire new generation that may not have noticed them otherwise.

 

Create a Strategic Vision for the Store: To redefine the role of your bookstore you need more than just adding a coffee shop and giving the space a facelift. You need a real strategic vision for the store.

Your strategic vision should start by taking into account the needs of your audience, their shopping habits, and how to best serve them. For example, Generation Z is much more likely to be shopping on their smartphone instead of actually going into a store.

For a bookstore, something like just being in convenient location on campus is simply not enough of a draw. To be relevant, the bookstore needs to use a multi-channel strategy that includes social media to connect with them.

Implementing a strategic vision to address the needs of the next generation of students has to be done now so you’ll be ready to serve them. Change takes time, and this is something that will need to be researched and rolled out carefully. There are many similarities between this generation and the next in terms of shopping. The key to creating a strong plan for the future is finding the right combination of what is working for current students and blending it with the needs of next generation who will be soon be on your campus.

 

Using these best practices, the campus bookstore needs to reinvent itself to stay relevant and continue generating revenue for the institution and student programs.

Blue Marble Consulting has considerable experience working with institutions to modernize their campus retail. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca.

 

 

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3 Key Benefits to Extending Hospital Retail Hours

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting

Published: July 3 2017

 

Earlier this year by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) reported on the growing trend of Canadian hospitals getting rid of the traditional visiting hours for families.

The Better Together movement has resulted in nearly 50 Canadian hospitals reviewing and/or adopting family presence policies, including adding 24 hour visiting hours.

 

The driving force behind this shift are the improved health outcomes and better overall care that come when hospitals offer for more accommodating visiting hours, along with a host of other benefits for both the institution and the patient.

Increased family presence can impact everything from reducing medication errors to the number of readmissions. It also creates a more collaborative environment for patients, families and medical staff, which results in more informed medical assessments and care planning.

 

With this new flow of additional people through the hospital during “off” hours, there are now many individuals who need retail services during their visits.

 

Additionally, when creating a retail strategy for healthcare institutions, we are regularly asked by the staff to offer some form of 24/7 retail. In most cases, the limited overnight population means it is not viable for operations to stay open. With around the clock visiting hours, there may be a more compelling reason to extend hours of key retail services.

 

Here are three key benefits to extending hospital retail hours to consider:

 

Fulfilling the Needs of Visitors and Staff

Evidence consistently shows a clear benefit to adopting a patient-and family-centered approach to visiting hours. Patients who are isolated while they are most vulnerable are at a greater risk for inconsistent care, negative events and possible emotional trauma.

By extending hours, it creates a larger support network for both the patient and the staff, which makes for a more collaborative experience for everyone.

 

Visits to the hospital can be a stressful time and simple things like being able to grab a coffee, browse through a shop and sit quietly for a few minutes can make a huge difference to a patient’s support system.

 

A hospital offering 24 hour visiting hours will have people looking for retail and food options during what have traditionally been “non peak” hours. Whether it’s a quick cup of coffee or a get well gift, visitors will be expecting some services to be available. By providing choices within the building, more time can be spent with the patient.

Additionally, it’s not only visiting hours that are going 24/7. More and more procedures, like MRIs or Cat Scans, are being scheduled around the clock, which also means more traffic in the hospital from staff, patients and visitors, all of whom may have their own needs to be met.

 

Patient, Visitor and Staff Satisfaction

While medical treatment is the number one priority for patients, retail is a big piece of the overall healthcare experience, particularly for loved ones who are waiting.

 

As more hospitals move to a 24-hour cycle for visiting and procedures, more people are looking for food and retail choices when these operations would traditionally be closed.
For patients, the reasons for increased satisfaction are clear. Having family or friends around helps decrease anxiety and the feelings of loneliness that often accompany a hospital stay. It allows for them to feel more comfortable as they have people who can advocate for them with staff.

 

From the perspective of the staff, these visiting hours means a more patient-centered, and collaborative approach to healthcare. More and more, patient’s families are being viewed as partners when it comes to care and recovery of the patient. Allowing family members to be present through extended hours provides more opportunities for staff to discuss things like critical care instructions that will need to be followed after discharge.

 

All of this adds up to a greater need for options for both retail and food services as part of overall satisfaction. The more time visitors spend in the hospital, the greater their need for these services.

For example, someone who is there to keep a family member company through a critical time is not going to want to get in their car and drive to the closest coffee shop at 3 a.m. Or a visitor who’s come in from a rural location to sit with a patient won’t be turning around to drive back home to get their cellphone charger.

The bottom line is that the more options for food and retail that can be included during these expanded hours, the more both staff and visitors can focus on the patient and their needs; without needing to worry about the details, which means a positive overall healthcare experience for everyone supporting the patient.

 

The Potential for Additional Revenue

With any retail strategy, generating additional revenue is an important element. Adding 24/7 retail to meet staff and visitor needs will likely add additional revenue to the hospital’s bottom line.

 

Not all hospitals will see a large influx of people in the hospital in the off hours (many of the hospitals are small community hospitals) so it is important to understand what the need really is and what operations are needed.

 

This is where things can get creative with new types of retail being added. While a hospital may not be able to add 24/7 retail they may be able to add self-service options along the lines of Amazon Go.

 

Adopting a concept like Amazon Go would mean the hospital could still offer plenty of food options to meet the needs of visitors and employees, without increasing staffing budgets.
With this type of option for food/beverage, the hospital could use food services staff already working during traditional hours to put together fresh, pre-made items; which ultimately provides more options for buyers.

 

There are also many new vending options – not the pop and candy vending machines of the past – but rather machines that offer fresh and healthy food choices.  Many of these machines provide much more than just food choices, there are some that offer electronics or even toiletries. A few strategically selected vending machines could easily boost revenue.
The changing nature of hospital operations means there are many opportunities for your organization to better serve your patients, staff and visitors while generating additional revenue.

 

BMC Consultants has considerable experience developing strategy for healthcare, retail and other organizations and offers project management services for flawless execution. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca

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Using Retail to Create a Positive Experience in Healthcare Facilities

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting

Published: June 26 2017

Every single person has a healthcare ‘journey’ that starts with birth and continues our entire lives. While the specific ‘needs’ during that journey are often dictated by the reason the person visits the hospital there are a number of overlapping themes on that journey.

The key to creating a positive experience in healthcare facilities is to experience the ‘journey’ through the patient’s eyes; a consumer-centric perspective. The common areas, wayfinding, and retail program are a big part of that overall journey.

For today’s hospitals, it’s about so much more than the gift shop when it comes to retail. The focus on experience means
moving towards a retail strategy that encompasses retail and services that align with the programs and clinics in which the hospital specializes.

Here are a few ways hospitals can enhance overall experience through retail:

 

Increase Value by Partnering with Brands

More and more healthcare organizations are bringing in established, recognized brands. By doing this the facility is providing patients, visitors and staff with brands they already use and know.

Instead of convincing people to do business with an unknown entity , bringing the right retail partners delivers greater value. – This approach helps increase retail sales as those brands are already trusted.

The truth is, there’s a certain comfort level when you see a familiar brand. Being at the hospital as a patient or visitor can be a stressful situation. While taking a walk downstairs and finding your favourite cup of coffee and cookie from your favourite place may not seem like that big of a deal, in the midst of a healthcare crisis that cup of coffee can feel like a lifeline.

This is particularly important as our customers come from all walks of lives, cultures and even languages, so a familiar brand can be reassuring.

 

Personalize the Experience

As we’ve seen across all retail – consumers are increasingly looking for personalization. Adding personalization to your retail strategy helps drive consumer loyalty.

From specialty stores to health food markets, there are no longer a required set of “musts” when it comes to what a hospital should offer for a retail experience. Rather Hospitals should be looking more closely at their client base and what their needs are. Some institutions are offering retail spaces that cater to cancer patients (selling wigs, scarves, etc.) or providing access to more hands-on services, like massage therapy and acupuncture.

Delivering a personalized retail experience starts with really understanding what people who cross the threshold into the hospital are looking for, and how to best meet their needs.

In a 2015 study of consumers 58% of those surveyed indicated that they are comfortable with retailers gathering personal information on their shopping interests and behaviours in return for a more personalized experience. The goal needs to be to deliver a valuable, personalized experience so people see the benefit of providing their personal information.

Ultimately, personalization paves the way for a better customer service and creating an overall customer experience. But like any other retailer, it’s important to know who you are targeting as different generations have different expectations. What you may choose to offer for retail in a children’s hospital will likely differ from a general hospital.

 

Align Operations Across Touchpoints

When consumers are using your services and retail, one thing they will be looking for is consistency. Every interaction and touchpoint should be focused on deepening the customer relationship.

What that looks like depends on the touchpoint, but one thing that every retailer needs to know is their numbers. This isn’t how much money they are making, but numbers related to how long most people spend in their location, what the average spend is or how long associates spend helping each customer.

By understanding these key metrics, your hospital is in a better position to plan retail operations and increase business. Consistently, studies of consumer behaviour have shown there is a high correlation between the interaction the employee and customer have and the average sales per shopper.

Additionally, the more quality interactions an employee has, the higher the shopping spend gets.

These principles can be applied through all touchpoints with hospital retailers, and by doing so consumers build trust with the institution by being provided a consistent experience no matter which shop they may visit.

 

Food Services of the Future

Another key trend is in food service and this should definitely be considered as part of an overall retail strategy.

Different types of cuisine and healthy eating are driving major shifts in the retail food within hospitals.  Plus, new technology is changing the traditional cafeteria model.

People no longer are willing to settle for standard hospital food as a patient, visitor or employee. Hospital food services are now taking cues from their retail counterparts and understand that they need to expand menu options and deliver a variety of options as part of the overall experience.

 

There are many innovative ways healthcare is taking on this challenge such as sourcing food locally and offering food education and nutrition programs and/or cooking classes to support people dealing with certain illnesses.

New trends are emerging as well from meals on demand (like hotel room service), the ability for staff to pre-order customized meals and pick them up and much more.

All of these trends are leveraging the significant value food service can add to overall customer experience and the bottom line while banishing the stereotype of blah and bland hospital food for good.

 

Improve Your Experience: Consult an Expert

Implementing these trends can be time and resource intensive for hospitals and their staff, as well as challenging. To minimize confusion, waste, and risk during the transition, it is best to work with an expert team that can not only give expert advice but also provide innovative ways to help design and implement these changes.

The right partner will have the experience and people to assess a hospital’s needs and goals and be able to customize a plan that provides the maximum value with the least amount of disruption for patients, staff, and guests. By letting the experts develop the strategy, hospitals can remain focused on their core competency – providing the best possible care to patients.

 

Whether it’s making sure someone can get their favourite cup of coffee, or offering a massage to a loved one spending their days at the hospital as a support person, there are an endless number of ideas of how you can make the hospital a more positive experience for everyone.

 

Hospital retail is a largely untapped market that has the opportunity to increase revenue, patient satisfaction and employee experience all with some adjustments to how you are currently running things.

 

Blue Marble Consultants has considerable experience working with healthcare facilities to improve their retail. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca

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Growing Number of Canadian Hospitals Getting Rid of Visiting Hours for Families

In a news release earlier this year by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (cfhi) – (link:wing-number-of-canadian-hospitals-getting-rid-of-visiting-hours-for-families”>http://www.cfhifcass.ca/NewsAndEvents/NewsReleases/NewsItem/2017/01/17/growing-number-of-canadian-hospitals-getting-rid-of-visiting-hours-for-families) – in Canada this affects 50 hospitals

So with this new flow of additional people through the hospital in what was considered the off hours now means there are many who need retail services to support their time in the building.

 

Question 1

What are the benefits to the hospital for extending their retail/food innovation hours to accommodate the new 24 hour visiting?

When creating a retail strategy, we are regularly asked by the staff to offer some form of 24/7 retail offering, however, the limited overnight staff does not provide a viable number of people to warrant an operation to stay open.  With the additional visitors now likely in the facility, it creates a more compelling reason to revisit extending some of the retail services

Benefits

A – Fulfilling the needs of visitors and staff – the alternative is a limited and unhealthy selection from a vending machine

B – Patient/visitor and staff satisfaction

While of course the medical treatment is the number one priority for patients, but retail is a big piece of the overall experience.

Particularly for the loved ones waiting for the patient receiving treatment.

C – The Potential for additional revenue

With any retail strategy, generating additional revenue is an important element.  While providing some kind of retail service 24/7 to service the new demand, it is likely some additional revenue will add to the bottom line.

 

Question 2

What considerations need to be taken into account when deciding to expand retail operations in healthcare?

Not all hospitals will see a large influx of people in the hospital in the off hours – many of the hospitals are small community hospitals so it is important to understand what the demand is and what kind of operation would satisfy the demand

So does it make sense?

The retail strategy should look to innovative approaches to service these customers

 

Question 3

Are there any additional retail services healthcare facilities could benefit from adding due to these expanded hours?

This is where the innovation comes in. There are lots of creative new models out there. Late in 2016, Amazon introduced its new Amazon Go, a cashier less concept.

There are also many new vending options – not the pop and candy vending machines of the past, but rather machines that offer fresh and healthy food choices.  Many of these machines offer much more than just food choices – there are some that offer electronics (you need that phone charger), and toiletries, just to name a few.

 

BMC Consultants has considerable experience developing strategy for healthcare, retail and other organizations and offers project management services for flawless execution. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca

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The Important Role of Retail to Healthcare Facilities

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Partner Blue Marble Consulting
Published: June 12 2017

Over the last 10 years, an increasing number of healthcare facilities have modernized in an effort to make the spaces more functional, inviting and comfortable for patients, staff and visitors.

This move has seen new buildings being dramatically different than older ones, and older buildings undergoing redevelopment to transform their facilities.

At the heart of these transformations is a renewed focus on three areas: community, retail offerings, and a focus on health and wellness from the cradle to the grave.

Retail plays an important role in this move to modernize healthcare facilities and offers a way to better serve not only patients and visitors, but staff as well, all while creating revenue new opportunities for the facility.

Retail Supports the Community AND the Facility

Retail is a key part of any hospital set up. Whether it’s the foodservice, auxiliary gift shop, pharmacy or any other retail offering, people need a place to stop and take a break from whatever they may be dealing with. Also, staff need the chance to run errands during work hours to support their work/life balance. Healthcare retail offers this opportunity.

It also offers the chance to get away for a moment, while still remaining on site, which is essential for patients and the people who are caring for them.

In a 2009 survey of more than 3,000 visitors and outpatients at seven hospitals in the Toronto area, seven out of 10 people indicated that the presence of businesses added great value to the hospital experience.

What they found is that people have a genuine appreciation for retailers that operate within hospitals and they are actually more likely to use that same retailers when they are outside of the hospital, due to positive brand recognition.

The same study also found that the number and variety of shops was the second strongest driver (after the expertise and friendliness of staff) of consumers’ positive overall impression of hospitals and their willingness to recommend the institutions.

A strong retail strategy should align with the brand story as well as integrate into the community. As a means to do so, there are several key integration elements to examine when working with hospital retailers, such as:

• Local partnerships
• Location: right place, right concept, right price
• Sustainability
• Increase focus on culinary, fresh/healthy cooking
• The brand story of the hospital
• Digital and social media
• Community engagement
• Authentic local flavour
• Local signature events
• Retail-tainment (retain entertainment)

Retail Supports Everyone

Budget pressures plague all hospitals and retail within the hospital can help provide a new or additional revenue stream to support hospitals and they continue to evolve their services. Hospitals continually strive to improve the healthcare experience for their patients, and additional revenue translates into better services for everyone.

So how can hospital retail serve patients, healthcare workers and visitors? Here are just a few ways:
• Creating an outstanding experience for anyone who uses their services
• Providing services to staff to improve work-life balance
• Increasing alignment and integration with patient services
• Creating a community destination that increases the comfort of those spending time there
• Extending the continuum of care
Hospitals are different from other facilities in that they have a captive audience, and this is a unique opportunity to generate additional revenue through retail sales. Hospitals are now starting to focus on developing and implementing retail strategies that improve the overall healthcare experience for all stakeholders.

Retail Provides Much Needed Revenue

All you need to do these days is watch the news to hear about how generating an appropriate level of revenue to maintain services is a challenge for all hospitals.

Because of rising costs, it has become increasingly more important for hospitals to generate sustainable sources of revenue to reduce reliance on provincial government funding.

In 2012, the Ontario Province Budget projected to reduce healthcare funding growth to 2.1% annually. This represents a steep decline compared to the 6.1% growth for 2003 to 2011. In addition, the majority of Ontario Hospitals will only receive approximately 85% of the funding they need from the provincial budget.

Clearly, hospitals are greatly in need of ways to make up the shortfall.

Whether in a small rural or large urban hospital, retail represents a special opportunity to have services that benefit not only the people who go there, but the facility itself. If you do not have a retail strategy already in place, it’s time to start looking at one as a means to evolve your retail, improve your customer experience and increase revenue for your facility.

Blue Marble Consulting has considerable experience working with healthcare retail operations to help them modernize and drive additional revenue for the facility. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@bluemarbleconsulting.ca