Providers finally sold on retail sales

Monday, March 31, 2008

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Industry changes have providers running scared—often straight into the arms of industry retail consultants.
More than ever, providers are looking for fresh ways to make money, thanks to national competitive bidding and lower reimbursements, says Jack Evans, president of Malibu, Calif.-based Global Media Marketing.
“If they have a decent location, they can open up room in the front and put in product,” said Evans. “You can add a few hundred dollars to every Medicare patient with add-on sales.”
Medtrade Spring recognizes the retail push with several retail “how-to” seminars, including Evans’ “Retail Strategies that Work.”
For example, in addition to selling CPAPs and masks, providers can do bed setups with mattresses, therapeutic pillows and hot flash pajamas, says Collette Weil, managing director of Summitt Marketing in Mill Valley, Calif., who will present “Bend & Snap: Retail Marketing Tactics that Get Attention and Customers.”
One way to get attention is through presentation, said Weil.
“Staging is very important,” she said. “The industry has a tendency to warehouse everything imaginable in the showroom and then you get super clutter.”
Manufacturers are stepping up to the plate to help providers make the transition, said Weill.
“They’re offering more retail packaging and planograms,” she said. “There is greater understanding of the store walk-through.”
Other popular retail items are canes, rollators, transport chairs and travel scooters. Bigger ticket items include lifts and stairglides, said Evans.
Aging in place is a growing trend, he said.
“People are staying in their homes when they retire,” said Evans. “It’s cheaper to buy medical equipment than to hire a contractor.”
Another key to building retail sales: hire well-trained salespeople, says Evans.
“So many times people never train staff and when that happens, they don’t see add-on sales,” he said. “They can’t assume the products will sell themselves. The end user needs to understand what’s available and how it meets their needs.” HME