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It takes a diverse team to get the job done

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Members of Mike Bloom’s diverse merchandising team at CVS/pharmacy include experts in particular categories, analysis, store design, logistics and inventory.

Members of Mike Bloom’s diverse merchandising team at CVS/pharmacy include experts in particular categories, analysis, store design, logistics and inventory.

There are four merchandising vice presidents: Cheryl Mahoney, Judy Sansone, Jim Trappani and Gant Pill. Greg Hanlon is director of merchandising analysis, while Rick Molchan is vice president of retail innovation and store design. Ron Link is senior vice president of logistics, and Richard Widdowson is vice president of inventory and replenishment.

Mahoney says the retailer’s ExtraCare loyalty program has been vital to giving beauty customers an individualized shopping experience and offering specials and value on their favorite items. The coming year will mark a breakthrough for delivering that personalized experience, she says.

Sansone notes that the consumables category has been a growth driver for the chain. Food and beverages drive profitable trips to stores, and CVS’ expansion of these segments has helped to deliver substantial growth in visits. Groceries were doubled in over 4,000 stores in the last year.

Consumables have moved from being an everyday convenience to a fill-in category for customers’ main shopping trip. CVS’ fill-in assortment is supported by a promotional trip-driving strategy, which makes the chain a destination for many consumers.

Trappani strives to have consumers think of CVS as the most convenient and easy-to-shop retail health care provider. People often are feeling subpar when they are shopping the stores’ health care departments, or they are worried about sick loved ones at home. The chain wants them to be able to find what they need rapidly, so they can get home to tend to themselves or their families, he says.

The retailer is reinforcing its health care positioning by focusing on store brand health products, notes Pill. That emphasis is crucial in the context of the broader focus of CVS Caremark Corp. as a health and wellness company, he says.

Adapting to changing consumer tastes has been a hallmark of CVS, says Hanlon. Flexibility to meet consumer needs has taken the form of regional selections and development of innovative formats such as the Life store and new urban cluster format. Research is integral to identifying opportunities, he adds.

Molchan says an outlet’s design and its merchandising should work jointly to please consumers. After determining what is important to shoppers, the retailer assesses what in-store elements to leverage or alter in order to deliver what the shopper wants, he says.

Link headed the logistics integration teams that assimilated warehouses picked up by CVS in its acquisitions. Successful integration, he says, depends on effective change management. Communication is key to that management, and it helps to include people from the acquired companies in the planning process, he notes.

Widdowson’s top priorities are keeping customers happy and controlling CVS’ inventory costs. His team collaborates with category managers, logistics personnel and suppliers to optimize product flow, especially for promotional events and new product launches.


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