Interview on the development of future-oriented pharmacies

Reframing Retail

The value of stationary retail has to be constantly reinvented in interaction with its digital counterpart: a process known as reframing retail. This has prompted us to regularly consult with people who have something to say and are not satisfied with the status quo. The result is a panorama of expert knowledge.

In this interview we talk to interior designer Sophie Reich about the future of pharmacies.

Today: Sophie Reich

Interior designer

The trained interior designer has been at the head of her own agency Reich Innenarchitektur since 2004 and has acquired extensive experience and in-depth knowledge through countless retail and office projects, as well as concepts for private interiors. Sophie Reich developed the layout of the fictional 'Future Pharmacy' and corresponding renderings in collaboration with BD Rowa, the supplier of automation solutions for pharmacies.
Sophie Reich

Interview with Sophie Reich

Interview on the development of pharmacies of the future

Visplay: Sophie Reich, to cut straight to the point – what is the biggest difference between the Future Pharmacy that you designed as an ideal and the pharmacy as we have always known it?

SR: As far back as we can remember, pharmacies have been the traditional go-to place when we need medicine and prescription drugs. But they have been offering more than that for some time now: we also go to the pharmacy for advice on health, body care and wellness and expect to be given the right products. Pharmacists today benefit from the trusted role they played 'in the old days' and their respected experience and knowledge. Yet in focusing on these new customer needs, the pharmacy also needs to serve as a retail space and create a positive shopping experience.

Visplay: Can you tell us more?

SR: Yes, thanks to automated procedures, modern pharmacies basically have greater freedom to make full use of the retail space. In addition to conventional pharmacy products, this can be through in-store events and presentations that spotlight seasonal ranges – travel, allergies, colds, vaccinations, etc. – as well as, for example, Covid testing or blood pressure measurement, and much more. This requires flexible furnishings with structures that can be quickly and easily assembled and dismantled again.

Visplay: Isn't there then a risk that the interior quickly acquires a provisional and inconsistent appearance?

SR:To avoid this, the retail space must communicate professional expertise and quality. This is helped by furniture that allows the use of different material and colour concepts, and which offers a successful blend of tradition and modernity. The former customary built-in display structures are replaced by sustainable system furniture that can be adapted to changing needs, but without giving the store the appearance of a 'cash-and-carry'.

Visplay:For Visplay, you designed the model for a 'Future Pharmacy'. What are its main characteristics?

SR: It was great to be able to design a fictional pharmacy but it was also a huge challenge. The retail space covers 150 square metres, with the addition of back offices and ancillary areas, all on the ground floor with three shop windows. I tried to create a feminine design with a matching palette of colours. The result stands out clearly from conventional pharmacies and provides a unique selling point. This is because around 90% of customers that spend time browsing in pharmacies are women. However, very few pharmacists have yet to take this into account so not many pharmacies have a design that specifically targets the needs and tastes of women. In fact, many pharmacists think of shopfittings as having a rather technical appearance whereas they would probably actually prefer softer and more emotional variants to just black, grey or silver. For the 'Future Pharmacy', wall and structural systems from Visplay serve as elements for high-quality yet flexible merchandise presentations that fulfil these expectations. Automated dispensing systems are used at the point of sale. That's how a modern pharmacy could look today and offer its customers a contemporary shopping experience. But of course there are countless options, catering to certain specific needs. In that respect 'Future Pharmacy' is an example that is intended as a source of inspiration.

Have we sparked your interest in the development of pharmacies of the future? More information can also be found in the third Reframing Retail report on the topic 'The identity crisis of the pharmacy'.

Reframing Retail Report

Date of publication: 08.03.2022
Pictures: Sophie Reich