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Q&A: Doug Schultz, Owner of Tobin's Pharmacy on the Features, Advantages and Benefits of RetailSTARx by CAM Commerce

Q&A: Doug Schultz, Owner of Tobin's Pharmacy on the Features, Advantages and Benefits of RetailSTARx by CAM Commerce


What is your role is at the pharmacy?

My name is Doug Schultz.  My brother Dave and I along with our wives Ruth and Shirley own Tobin’s.  I’m a registered pharmacist, hearing instrument specialist and I manage IT and general store operations.

What can you tell me about your business? 

-Tobin’s was started by Frank Tobin back in 1913 in Burlington, WI which is a city about forty miles south of here.  It was a typical corner drug store with a soda fountain, and it was a community gathering place.  In fact Frank would keep the store open until 10 p.m. so people who had taken in a movie at the local theater could stop by after the show was over and have an ice cream Sunday or a cherry phosphate.  By the way, on July 1st, Tobin’s was 106 years old.

-We’ve changed a lot since then, but in many ways we’ve stayed the same.  Tobin’s still remains a destination store for the Oconomowoc community and the surrounding area.

What makes the business unique? 

First of all, I think our product mix is very unique.  We’ve merged the characteristics of a family-owned, independent pharmacy with the characteristics of a general merchandise department store complete with the nation’s top two cosmetic lines.  We offer personalized, customer-centric service with highly skilled sales associates whose primary goal is to build relationships with our guests and provide them with experiences, products and services that make them want to keep returning to our store.

How do you differentiate yourself in your industry?

We’re not a cookie-cutter operation like the chain stores.  Tobin’s has a distinctive character all its own.  Each of our pharmacists specializes in various practice areas such as nutrition, diabetes management, smoking cessation, and audiology.  Our front end has a unique flavor as well, with Estee Lauder and Clinique cosmetic lines, Brighton and John Medeiros jewelry, women’s and children’s clothing, 6,000 square feet of prominent gift lines, Hallmark greeting cards, a gourmet center and a nutritional center containing pharmaceutical-grade natural products. All of these departments require well-educated staff members who know the features and benefits of the products and know our customers.  Their primary goal is to build relationships with our guests and provide them with experiences, products and services that make them want to keep returning to our store.

Tell me about your typical customer and why do you feel they come here to shop?

Demographically, I would say our typical customer is female, from the age of 40 and up, middle to upper class.  They keep coming back because they love the feeling they get when walking through our doors.  Friendly, caring sales associates and pharmacists who greet them and make them feel important.  High quality and beautifully displayed merchandise.  A clean, efficient and well-organized environment.

I’ve heard you’ve done some very creative marketing initiatives to promote your store, such as Tea at Tobin’s, dressing up as Elvis, etc.  Can you talk a bit about those and how they have helped the success of Tobin’s?

If people are going to keep shopping in traditional brick and mortar retail stores, they need to experience something very different and perhaps a little off the wall to give them something to talk about.  You’ll have to admit, that for the most part, shopping online is pretty boring, but if you can give people a great shopping experience when they enter your store, they tend to keep coming back.  Yes, I do get up on our stage and do an Elvis tribute performance during special events such as Tea at Tobin’s, Spring Open House and our summer clearance event.  Thank you very much, you’re a fantastic audience!

How did you come to work with RetailSTARx over 20 years ago?

We had been using a pos system since 1987, and in spring of 1997, I thought we could increase sales by target marketing our customers with direct mail advertising based on their specific purchases.  I called IBM’s national sales manager and asked if they had a POS system that would allow us to track customer purchases based on specific vendors.  He said he only knew of one company that tracked merchandise purchases by customer, and that was CAM Commerce.  I immediately called them and spoke with one of their sales reps who invited me to visit their facility in California to discuss our business and demonstrate their software.  Long story short, on August 1, 1997, we went live with CAM.  In August 2013 we migrated from CAM32 to Retail Star.

How does using RetailSTARx point of sale software impact your operations and what benefits do you feel it provides you?

-One of the biggest benefits is pinpointing old product and getting it on sale.  The old product report can be run by department or by vendor and really helps improve inventory turnover rate and cash flow.

-Another big benefit is the ability to create promotions that automatically start and end on specific dates.  Retail Star can handle virtually any promotion you can throw at it, and this takes the pressure off our sales personnel and increases the efficiency of the checkout process.

-I mentioned before that target marketing continues to be a huge benefit.  As an example, when Estee Lauder or Clinique run their gift with purchase event, our marketing manager runs a report from Retail Star that creates a list of customers who have purchased these cosmetic and skin care products over the past year.  Retail Star then converts this report to an Excel file.  The Excel file is then imported into our IVR computer, which in turn, calls all of our Estee Lauder or Clinique customers reminding them to take advantage of the promotion.

-Many of our vendors periodically ship us catalog mailers that we send to our customers.  Again, our marketing manager generates a report with the names and addresses of our top purchasers of that specific vendor, mailing labels are created and to the post office they go.  We do the same thing with target email promotions.  In fact, at point-of-sale, Retail Star asks if we want to add or update the customer’s email address.  If so, the email address field is updated in the customer record.

-Another benefit that helps motivate our sales associates is a monthly spiff or commission that is paid based on the profitability of the sale and on whether the department has delivered a 3% sales increase over the same month a year ago.  In order to generate a well organized report with the profitability filter, I‘ve linked the Retail Star database to Microsoft Access.

-An additional perk to having the Retail Star database linked to Microsoft Access is that one can create a report that contains the actual item barcode on every line of the printout.  Here’s an example of how this can be used to improve the efficiency of taking a physical inventory:  Seasonal items usually don’t have a 100% sell through, which means that they have to be boxed up and stored in the warehouse until our semi-annual clearance event.  Our personnel scan each item with a portable data terminal prior to placing it in a storage box, the PDT is downloaded to Retail Star and a barcoded report is generated by MS Access.  The report is then attached to the box containing the merchandise and the box is stored in the warehouse.  When physical inventory is taken, our personnel just have to scan the barcodes on the report and enter the quantity on the portable terminal rather than having to take everything out of the box.  This is a huge time saver!

What were some of the challenges you were experiencing with your prior retail software, and as such, the reasons you originally made the switch to RetailSTARx?

The main challenge with our prior POS system was its poor report writing software.  Even though we were scanning all items at the checkouts, we were unable to get reports out of the system telling us item and vendor turnover rates or departmental ending inventory figures.  We also had no way of producing a report showing a list of items that had positive inventory but were not selling.  A first-rate POS system needs to have a first-rate report writer.  Without the ability to easily create a report with the data you need to run your business, all you have is a glorified cash register with a scanner attached to it.

Being a long-term CAM client, can you talk a little bit about your experience with CAM Commerce over the years and how that has changed?

When we migrated to CAM Commerce in 1997, I felt there were several improvements that needed to be made to the software due to our unique retail environment and large customer base.  That led to a friendship with their product development manager who was very interested to hear what I thought the next enhancement should be.  We would bat things around and the next thing I knew, he would be loading the files on our server and I’d be alpha testing the program.  I’ve always enjoyed the challenges of being on the cutting edge.  Since 2013, when we upgraded to RetailStaRx, Tobin’s was a key player in the development of the POS-McKesson Enterprise interface which has really streamlined the pharmacy patient checkout process.

Can you describe the integration between your RetailSTARx POS software and the McKesson Enterprise dispensing system?  What are the biggest benefits?

The Rx-POS interface reduces checkout time by allowing the sales associate to scan one barcode on the prescription bag which automatically brings up the patient’s name, a list of the medications contained in the bag and each co-pay.  Signature capture is all handled at point-of-sale. When the patient has completed the purchase of their prescriptions, the McKesson Enterprise system is notified by Retail Star that the prescriptions have been picked up.  The Enterprise pharmacy system, in turn, sends a message to our IVR computer telling it to stop calling the patient with a reminder that their prescriptions are ready.

Can you talk a bit about the aspect of the Retail Star software that helps you comply with state healthcare regulations?

-Customer purchases of pseudoephedrine are tracked and reported in real-time to apprise in Louisville, KY.  When the maximum monthly amount of Pseudoephedrine has been purchased by a customer, Retail Star blocks any further sales.

-Retail Star records the name and address of the person who is picking up scheduled prescription medication.  This may be the patient, a spouse or caregiver.  This information is then transmitted to McKesson EnterpriseRx and is, in turn, reported to PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program).

Can you describe how you use mobile inventory scanners (PDTs) throughout your department store/pharmacy and how it has helped you run your business more efficiently?

We use a Zebra (Motorola) MC3190 WiFi enabled pocket PC.  It’s connected to the Retail Star database on our server and allows us to do real-time price checks on the sales floor to verify that the scanned retail matches the price on the shelf label.  This also allows us to verify that our promotional price changes have taken effect.  When taking physical inventory, the MC3190 will produce an audible signal that alerts the user if a scanned UPC is missing from our product table.  The item is then set aside for our data entry personnel to add it back into the inventory.  When a departmental physical inventory is in progress, the MC3190 can be downloaded to the Retail Star server via WiFi without having to place it in a cradle.  This saves time.  We also have a Datalogic Skorpio mobile scanner, but it doesn’t have the capability of doing real-time price checks at this time.

What would you say is the biggest differentiator between RetalSTARx and other retail software providers? 

-The pharmacy interface, pseudoephedrine and scheduled drug tracking

-The incredible capability of Report Star which is the report writing module within Retail Star.

-The tracking and reporting of style, size and color of soft goods.

-And Retail Star really allows one to get creative with promotions.

Would you recommend RetailSTARx to other pharmacy, apparel or general merchandise retailers and why?

If Retail Star can handle a complex operation like Tobin’s with the depth and breadth of products and services that we offer, it should be able to handle anything other retail establishments can throw at it!

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POS Systems (Point of Sale)