Retail strategies that affect success

Karen Corrigan, vice president for system development at Sentara Health System in Norfolk, VA, says health care providers should consider the following three retail strategies that affect an organization’s success:

1. The customer experience.

Retailers have learned to create an environment in which people want to spend time and money. To improve the customer experience, and thereby improve satisfaction and market share, providers can look at such areas as comfort, ease of access, hours of operation, and convenience. Can you devise a system to let patients make appointments over the Internet? Can you provide 24-hour access to a physician or nurse?

2. Related solutions.

Retailers display related products and services to generate extra spending. The candles, for example, are next to the candle holders.

This strategy results in more revenue and higher customer satisfaction. Corrigan points to an OB/GYN she knows who sold vitamins in the office and hired a part-time wellness coordinator to help patients. Patient satisfaction went up and so did revenues. A hospital might set up a home health storefront with equipment and information about home care services or sell books related to medical conditions.

3. New markets.

Retailers know how to create a niche, fill a gap, or create a new category of demand. Take Levi’s, for example, which created a whole new need for casual work attire through boosting the idea of casual Fridays. The result: more sales for its Dockers brand pants.

In health care, Corrigan points to the demand for alternative medicines and lifestyle drugs that fight fat, wrinkles, and baldness.