Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I believe in you Rite Aid

As you all know Rite Aid has come across some hard times. "Add in that Rite Aid has only $150 million in cash and more than $6 billion dollars in debt and you can see why the outlook isn't so rosy."

As an opinionated blogger and Rite Aid enthusiast I have a few suggestions:

1. Ditch the Kmart look
Remember a few years ago when Kmart was losing insane amounts of money? That was also around the time they decided to implement ridiculous cost-saving measures like turning off half the floor lights during peak business hours. Rite Aid looks like Kmart used to look. The stores (and I will frequent 5-10 different Rite Aids a month) are invariably crowded, overstocked with items no one is buying and poorly laid out.

2. Print nicer circulars
CVS will frequently survey its customers on their circular's looks (I just took a survey this Sunday comparing their circular to Walgreens). RiteAid's circular is laid out like their stores - everything is hodge podged together and the door busters (free after rebate items) will be buried in the middle of page 5. If I, a reasonably hardcore shopper, can't find the item in the circular the average browser won't either! Don't be afraid to mix up your layout with different colors and some items larger than others.

3. Advertise better stuff on your parking lot's board
Walgreens always advertises essentials like milk or great deals on their boards. Rite Aid always advertises that you can print pictures at their store. Most folks won't randomly drive by and say "Gee whiz, I do have a memory card full of pictures to print, let me run in!" but they will say "I need milk for the kids and am already here."

4. Have more cashiers
As I mentioned earlier, I frequent a lot of RiteAids. They are invariably run by one manager, one stock person and one cashier. Three employees per store seems to be the norm. This means long register lines, harried managers helping people find stuff and that one extra guy who runs between stocking shelves and manning the other register.

5. Get a price checker machine
Remember what I said about Rite Aid stores being overcrowded and stuff moved around a lot? Remember what I also said about the three employees? If you won't spring for an extra cashier, get an automated machine to help customers price check their own items.

Now this all sounds quite negative but its tough love. I like you Rite Aid. Your rebate program is passable, you frequently mark down items and just started a membership rewards program. These are all excellent steps towards becoming a viable competitor in my drugstore trifecta instead of that random drugstore I visit just for the freebies.


Anonymous said...

Plus it seems like many Rite Aid stores are not friendly when it comes to specials. They have stuff on sale but keep stock in the back. If you are going to draw me in the store with the promise of toothpaste that is free after rebate, don't leave it in the stockroom because you don't want everyone to buy them on Sunday. Plan better. ~E