Safeway is taking a total-store approach to becoming a health and wellness destination for its customers, with pharmacy at the center, said Darren Singer, SVP of pharmacy, health and wellness at the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company.

Toward that end, the chain is redesigning its pharmacies with lower counters, no glass partitions between the pharmacist and customers, and a door on the front of the pharmacy so pharmacists can easily get out to counsel patients in the OTC area of the stores, he told a packed audience at FMI Connect on Friday.


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“We can make pharmacy the center of health and wellness, with concentric circles spreading out to the OTC area, and all all the way out to the perimeter, with fresh produce,” Singer said.

As part of Safeway’s effort, the OTC aisle has been expanded to 120 feet from 90 feet, with lower shelving and better lighting.

“We’ve essentially dropped a drugstore into the middle of our supermarket,” Singer said.

Noting that people with diabetes are valuable customers because of their high rate of spending, Singer said Safeway is also focusing strongly on products for those customers, making the products easier to access in the stores.

He also said Safeway has transitioned from a traction-based pharmacy operation in which driving volume was most important to one in which care for the patient comes first.

“Our motto is, ‘Every patient, every day,’ with a focus on individual consultation,” he said, noting that the move is paying off with increased sales of health and wellness products.

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