Thinking Retail . . .

Once upon a time, I used to call my doctor’s office to make an appointment for the annual flu shot. It was always scheduled at a time more convenient for the office staff than for me (“We do shots between 10 am and 2 pm, but we’re closed from 12 to 1 for lunch.”) and even then, a 25 to 45 minute wait wasn’t unusual.

Personally, I can’t remember the last time I had a flu shot at a doctor’s office. Last year, it was done while traveling between the B & C concourses at the Charlotte Airport in North Carolina – 5 minutes, $35 and a record of the event sent to my email before I boarded the plane. My husband and I had H1N1 injections administered by a pharmacist at RiteAid on a Sunday afternoon. No appointment, no waiting.

If you haven’t yet noticed, retailers such as CVS and Walgreens are already heavy into flu shot promotion season. Here are a few lessons from the retailing of these preventive injections:

  • Price is front and center – you know what you’re going to pay before you walk in the door; price points seem to be hovering in the $30 range
  • Convenience is all about the consumer – CVS’s “Flu Shots Your Way” promotes your ability to “click, call or come by”
  • Loss leaders drive traffic – one retail pharmacy is giving the flu shot free when you spend $30 on a core set of brand products; could there be some co-marketing spend here as well?
  • Keep the paperwork minimal – at the airport kiosk, I checked ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to 5 questions and signed permission to administer
  • Customer service, customer service, customer service – no additional explanation needed

All of this customer experience design is there for a $30 flu shot; what might happen if we put the same effort into a $30,000 inpatient procedure?

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