By  on August 21, 2014

A Beverly Hills address deserves star treatment and that’s just what Rite Aid gave its remodeled store in the 90210 zip code.

The store, located at 300 North Canon Drive, is just the latest example of the chain’s on-going evolution of its Wellness store format.

That’s especially true in the cosmetics department, a category the company said has a “holistic” impact on the entire store, while keeping Rite Aid competitive. “We need to continue to introduce new programs to ensure our important beauty customers do not migrate to other channels or specialty stores,” asserted Bill Bergin, group vice president of health and beauty at Rite Aid.

While its primary focus will always be the pharmacy, beauty is a crucial category that Bergin said builds loyalty for its most important customers, especially in skin care, cosmetics and hair care. Rite Aid has expanded space for key supplier partners such as L’Oréal, Maybelline, Revlon and Cover Girl, while also finding unique lines that separate the chain from its competition. Some of those at Beverly Hills include Eddie Funkhouser, Senna Cosmetics, Pop Beauty and Susan Posnick. In skin care, the lineup is anchored by Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Lumene. The beauty team members are constantly challenging themselves to find unique and differentiating brands to separate Rite Aid from the competition. There is also an impactful presentation of men’s grooming items. Each store mix is slightly unique based on store demographics.

Along with premium products, Rite Aid is ramping up store events and services. To herald the unveiling of the remodeled Beverly Hills unit, Rite Aid and its supplier partners recently offered customers demonstrations and samples during a special three-week promotion. Also, in select stores, Rite Aid is adding specially trained beauty advisors that are able to demonstrate products to customers and help them find the right products to achieve the latest beauty looks.

“We are adding beauty advisors only in our best beauty stores at this time as we develop and modify the position,” explained Bergin. The beauty advisors receive specialized product training to enable them to provide expert advice. Many of the beauty advisors who have joined Rite Aid have brought a vast beauty background and have definitely helped drive profitable beauty sales, the company said.

Many shoppers in the Beverly Hills market are aware of the up-and-coming brands like Eddie Funkhouser, whose namesake made a store appearance during opening events. However, Bergin said the use of social media gives great exposure to brands that don’t always have the same resources as larger suppliers. Beauty bloggers have helped push the independent brands, as well.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid has put great effort into the fixtures for the traditional cosmetic brands that maintain their brand equity while also creating a boutique look. The bright, illuminated displays present a look and tone that helps Rite Aid compete effectively with retailers such as Sephora and Ulta. Improved presentation has boosted sales of nail care in 500 nail bars Rite Aid has implemented. “We didn’t add new nail-care brands, it was more about a changed and improved merchandising presentation and the results have been very impressive,” said Bergin.

Another striking addition at Beverly Hills is a 22-foot-long video screen snaking like a zipper across the top of the department playing soothing images and sounds of waves or forest scenes to re-create the mood of a relaxing spa.

Rite Aid has also found space to enlarge beauty thanks to technology in categories such as electronics, which no longer require massive footage devoted to items such as boom boxes. Many electronics are simply part of cell phones.

The Wellness store format, which first launched in 2011, is now in place in 30 percent of Rite Aid’s units, or about 1,325 stores. “Remodeled Wellness stores have outperformed non-Wellness stores so far and thus will continue to be a key part of our go-forward strategy,” Bergin said. He added the company’s senior leadership has encouraged the team to make sure each new store is even more compelling than the last. “We are constantly being challenged to innovate,” said Bergin.

Other enhancements at the Beverly Hills store include a total remodel and enlargement of the pharmacy, the redesign of several key departments, and the addition of a Fresh Day Café and patio area, where customers can enjoy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf beverages, fresh baked goods, sandwiches and Rite Aid’s own Thrifty ice cream.

The company anticipates remodeling another 450 stores to feature its Wellness store format by the end of fiscal 2015.

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