How One Pharmacy Is Creating a Local Niche Using Its Point of Sale

Brothers and pharmacists Mike and James Rossi run Phred’s Drug in Cranston, R.I. While the Rossis have a classic story for independent pharmacy — they are the third generation to pilot this 60-year-old community mainstay — the pharmacy itself isn’t so typical. First of all, it’s 18,500 square feet, with 3,500 square feet strictly designated to the pharmacy, a 1,500-square-foot area to service group homes, and the remainder given over to a broad retail business that ranges from Italian specialty groceries to wine and spirits, to a department for paying utility bills. Six full-time drivers provide delivery services throughout the state, and the business employs around 50 people, including nine full-time pharmacists and 12 pharmacy technicians. You won’t be surprised to find out that the Rossis are point-of-sale system (POS) power users, too. In this interview with Retail Management Solutions (RMS) VP of Sales and Marketing Mike Gross, Mike Rossi talks about what it’s meant to bring in a high-powered POS from RMS.

Mike Gross: Phred’s Drug has created a real niche for itself. Tell us how.

Mike Rossi: To begin with, we’re a very high-volume independent pharmacy. And we’re one of what I think is only 10 or so retail independents left in the state. But we’re more than just a pharmacy. We’ve got a big retail business, too. A lot of people will look at us and see a small supermarket. We have a full liquor license. We’re one of the only pharmacies left with that license, because once they go out of business they don’t reissue the licenses anymore. We also have a full line of Italian foods, fresh produce, frozen foods, and dairy — a whole range of groceries. My father jokes sometimes, “You can buy oil for your salad or oil for your car.”

Gross: You also have a distinction when it comes to POS, right?

Rossi: Yes. Well, we’ve had RMS POS for over five years now, but before that we were actually the first store in the state to put in a point-of-sale system — in 1986 — even before the supermarkets did.

Gross: So as a store with long experience with POS, what was the tipping point that brought you to Retail Management Solutions?

Rossi: Well, there were a couple of things. We needed to address our volume — just the number of people coming through the store and the amount of work that the registers were getting. We also needed redundancy. We ran into one situation with our previous system where the server filled up with too much data and went down. When the server went down we couldn’t even draw our registers, never mind the fact that we couldn’t run any credit-card transactions when it was down.

We also wanted the ability to be able to separate deliveries out and manage them as their own departments. We were ringing them out on a pharmacy register before, and it took too long. We needed to pick up speed. And I don’t mean just the old POS hardware was slow, I mean it was just a slow system. We outgrew it, you know? We needed newer technology, technological innovations to meet our needs. So now we have six registers and a dedicated delivery terminal. Also, we needed compatibility with our pharmacy management system, which is what you guys offer now. CT