Blog :: Blog

The benefits of shelving a wide range of products in your pharmacy

How you utilise shelf space in your pharmacy is important. By stocking smartly, you can transform your ROI. Shelving premium products alongside everyday essentials, is an ideal balance. Every pharmacy is different, and you know your customers and their purchasing habits best, so demonstrate this with your range of products and brands. Here are some of the benefits…

A comprehensive solution for customers

Be a one-stop shop for local residents. If they are in-store looking for a particular product, they are bound to need associated products that could also be useful for their healthcare or medical needs. Taking pregnancy products as an example, if a customer is looking to get pregnant, they may be interested in ovulation kits, pregnancy tests and folic acid supplements. They may need all of these products during their pregnancy journey and so it is ideal for you to stock them all, offering a full solution for them. The same can be said for many over-the-counter (OTC) product categories such as cold and flu products, as many customers will likely buy more than one product there and then if they need it.

Bundle deal opportunities

The more specific product ranges you have, the more flexibility you have on hosting relevant promotion deals such as ‘Buy two products get one free’, ‘Buy three products for £x’. This drives more of an incentive for customers to buy more of the range and gives you more opportunities to upsell. This is great for your ROI, especially if you have worked with your suppliers to buy in at a cost-efficient price.

Be the go-to pharmacy

Get your pharmacy recognised for being the place that will have the healthcare products that people need. There is nothing worse for customers turning up to buy a product, for it to be out of stock. If it’s in your control, make sure to steadily re-stock commonly purchased products and its associated range. Gaining a reputation for having a good product range will go a long way in earning more customer loyalty and repeat visits to your pharmacy.

wide range of products

Body image during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when women potentially experience the biggest changes to their bodies in their lives so far – both physically and mentally. It’s therefore not surprising that adjusting to these changes can take time. A common association relating to pregnancy is the presence of the ‘rosy glow’, but behind the glow, physical body changes can actually cause some women worry and anxiety as expected.

How does pregnancy affect body image?

In the age of social media, societal pressures are at an all-time high and women can feel expected to conform to an ideal weight, even during their pregnancy! Pregnancy body image concerns are widespread, and recent research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation revealed the extent of how many women feel negative about their body image during pregnancy. The survey reported that ‘More than half (54 per cent) of the women aged 25-34 who had been pregnant felt more negative about their body image after pregnancy compared to before they were pregnant.

Your body is a temple for your baby

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative effects of pregnancy, but it is important to realise the value in the changes that your body is going through. When you are pregnant, your body is working hard to make changes to accommodate the birth of your baby. The most common changes are fluctuating hormones and physical changes, such as stretch marks and weight gain, which are only natural! It is important to not pay attention to the scales, as giving birth to a healthy baby is your priority. It is also common to have an increased appetite during pregnancy, especially when morning sickness fades and cravings increase. Do not feel guilty about this, instead eat a varied diet with treats in moderation, as you need more calories to feed your ever-growing baby!

How to focus on body acceptance and body appreciation

Focusing on body acceptance and body appreciation during pregnancy can be difficult, but research suggests that a combination of exercise, looking after your wellbeing and having a good support network can really help. If you are lucky to have a reassuring support network, it is definitely worthwhile sharing your body issue worries with them, as it is likely that many of your friends and family can relate. Being prepared with maternity clothes can also increase your confidence. Prioritising comfort will make you feel better in yourself and today as much of a fashion-focus is given to maternity wear, so you do not have to compromise style for practicality!

body image during pregnancy

Why lower price point healthcare products should not be overlooked by consumers

In a nation where pharmaceutical product costs are unpredictably fluctuating, consumers, the NHS and pharmacies, are feeling the brunt of it. The NHS is crippled by the price points of certain drugs and medical supplies, and whilst consumers are first to complain about the costs of prescriptions, they would soon understand by reading into the costs behind the scenes.

Similarly, in the retail market global brands are fighting for the monopoly of shelf space but maintaining premium costs. However, consumers are gifted with more of a choice in this realm. In the past few years private label brands, offering cheaper alternatives, have earnt themselves a gateway and many consumers have been happy to embrace them. In the supermarket retail sector, we are living in the world of the ‘alternative consumer’, where many have moved past the perception that private labels and cheaper brands are low quality and are instead seen as a smart bargain.

Yet, arguably when it comes to pharmaceutical and health products, we haven’t quite got to where we want to be with this perception. There has still been a reluctance to purchase cheaper alternatives of generic drugs such as paracetamol, which can be bought for as little as 19p over the counter. The NHS has even clamped down on the ability to write prescriptions for over the counter products after it was revealed to be costing them around £136 million a year for prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket1. The same perception challenges are felt by healthcare brands with conceivably lower price points.

Darren Collett-Mills, Managing Director of Axis Medicare Ltd. and Early Bird Swift, the home pregnancy and fertility test brand, shares his view on why lower price point healthcare products should not be overlooked by consumers.

Quality assured

“When we look at consumer behaviour, in the past and present, it’s evident that the retail cost of a product can affect the perception of its quality. Whilst some retail sectors have found solutions to this, the healthcare sector is still somewhat challenged. Many consumers assume that the same quality will not be achieved, when in fact the technology or formula behind a premium product and a regular product can often be very similar. This can certainly be said of the pregnancy test market, where tests need to have undergone thorough laboratory testing to even get to market. For example, our Early Bird Swift test is proven over 99% accurate, and it is a lower price point than some others in the market but still capable of delivering critical results. Accuracy is a priority for our market’s customers, and I think more attention needs to be given to demonstrating to them that their needs come first and we as an industry assure quality is at the forefront of our products.”

Brand experience

“In the healthcare industry, new players are entering the market regularly. Consumers are naturally attracted to fresh thinking brands and new product technology, even if they hold a premium price tag. Some consumers even find the higher price a more attractive feature in their purchasing decision. Therefore, some long serving brands with lower price points may feel that they are sometimes overlooked. How often do consumers consider the years of experience that may be held by these brands and the development time that has gone into perfecting a product? The importance of brand experience is not always recognised, but it should be seen as a reassurance for consumers.”


“Some products’ purposes are to be bold and impressive. In the healthcare market, a product’s performance and ability to serve its purpose is essential. Consumer-brand identification may sway a customer to pick one brand over another, but if a product is a necessity requirement as opposed to a lifestyle brand, you would think simplicity would appeal as a priority. This can particularly be the case for pregnancy tests, where consumers need clarity via a product with ease of use, with minimum fuss.”

Why lower price point healthcare products should not be overlooked by consumers

Relieving pregnancy stress

Life stresses can get the better of all of us. Yet, when you are pregnant, you may feel the effects of stress even more when preparing for your new life chapter. Your body is changing and growing a baby can naturally cause your body to feel tired as you get further into your pregnancy experience. Here we advise how you can relieve some stress during pregnancy…

Yoga and meditation

Pregnancy yoga is a great way to stay active whilst pregnant and can improve your posture without putting too much strain on your body. With relaxation and breathing techniques a key part of a yoga session, you can wind down and calm your mind. Yoga has been recognised for reducing anxiety and can even prepare you better for labour. Meanwhile meditation at home can also be great for stress reduction. Mobile apps such as Calm or Headspace can help you zone out from your worries and free your mind. Mindfulness should not be underestimated throughout your pregnancy.

Take a break

You may feel like you have particular tasks to achieve or complete before your baby comes, for example at work or in your home, but try not to push yourself too far. Recognise when you’re tired and listen to your body – take the time out to sit and watch your favourite TV show or pamper yourself when you need to. If you’re also used to being a social butterfly, it isn’t unusual to find yourself struggling to keep up with your busy events diary. Friends and family will understand if you want to ease off from evening dinner dates or Saturday shopping sprees. Relax whilst you can!

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Without sufficient sleep each night, we can feel more stressed by everyday situations. One of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy is the craving for more sleep, and it’s unsurprising – it’s hard work for your body to grow a baby! You should try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, although this can become more difficult if you are in discomfort towards the third trimester and beyond. Have a warm bath, try a pregnancy pillow and wind down before bed to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep.

Talk to friends and family

It is good to talk! If you have any worries that are causing you stress in your pregnancy, the best thing to do is talk to people you can trust rather than hold it in. Your friends and family are sure to be understanding and offer you help or advice to ease your woes. If you feel that talking to a professional would suit you better, confide in your midwife or GP for support. You are certainly not alone!

Relieving pregnancy stress

Early Bird Swift and where it all began…

Early Bird Swift, the home pregnancy and fertility test brand, has a history spanning over 30 years, and its success can certainly be attributed to its wealth of experience and quality of product. Little did Darren Collett-Mills, its Managing Director, know just how things would evolve when he started his career in pharmaceuticals in his early 20’s. He tells his story…

How did you begin your career in pharmaceuticals?

In my teens, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with Denis O’Neill, one of the founders and Managing Director of Kent Pharmaceuticals. He was a huge inspiration to me and when I finished university, it was him that gave me a chance to learn the ropes within his business. I started working there at 21 and worked in most of the departments that they had; from the IT department, to sales, to develop my knowledge. I knew from then that this was the industry I wanted to build my career in. There’s always a need for medicines!

What happened from there?

Axis Medicare was set up initially within Kent Pharmaceuticals, as a supplier of over the counter products. Early Bird Swift, a long standing and successful brand originally launched by Kent Pharmaceuticals in 1986, became Axis’s first trademarked and over-the-counter product. I was then appointed General Manager of Early Bird Swift, driving the future growth of the brand and sales.

How did the success of Early Bird Swift grow?

The brand went from strength to strength after its launch by Kent Pharmaceuticals and Axis has seen it do the same for them. In a sense, the baton was passed from Kent to Axis so many of the team felt a strong affiliation with Early Bird Swift. The pregnancy test was a product that was re-launched by Axis with the intention to be an educational product for women. Although it was always designed to be simplistic, with quality the priority, we wanted it to be more than a commodity as we really wanted to help customers with their next steps after finding out if they are pregnant or not. We genuinely care about the welfare of our customers, and we’ve always supplied advice and recommended contacts for help, whether customers receive the outcome they are hoping for or not. We believe we have now taken it to the next level in terms of advice and support.

You then took Early Bird Swift independent?

Yes. Sadly, my dear friend and mentor Denis became terminally ill and Kent Pharmaceuticals was acquired soon after. I had the backing from Denis’ brother Ken, to buy Axis Medicare and the brand Early Bird Swift outright to continue the fantastic legacy that was built. In 2013 we started off by setting up a small unit (the size of a couple of large bedrooms!) where we only had the space to sell Early Bird Swift and a few OTC medicines. Starting with only a handful of staff, over time we succeeded in developing a substantial and award-winning business. We also relaunched the Axis Medicare brand and as the business has grown, we have had to move to a new premise which has opened up even more opportunities to develop the brand and our offerings. This has taken us to a whole new and exciting level with hopefully plenty more to come.

What’s next for Early Bird Swift?

Early Bird Swift is a brand built on great values. Whilst we are always looking to develop, quality and accuracy is the formula for success in our product. As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’. We also love the Kent history of the brand. Based in the heart of Kent, we have really stuck to our roots, with a wealth of experience under our belts. A majority of our staff members are the same people who helped to launch the brand all those years ago and are a testament to our continued success.


Darren Collett-Mills Headshot

Darren Collett-Mills, Managing Director of Early Bird Swift and Axis Medicare

You’re pregnant – what next?

You have taken a pregnancy test and your result has shown a positive reading. It is likely that you feel shocked or slightly overwhelmed, whether it is the result you hoped to receive or not, and this is only natural. You should take some time to let the news settle in and confide in a loved one before you think about your next steps…


If you’re happy to be pregnant

This is the news you’ve been hoping for or you’ve been trying to conceive for some time. This is a new chapter in your life, and it is exciting how things will change for you. Make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. When you confirm with your doctor that you are pregnant, your antenatal care will begin. The midwifery team will be informed that you are pregnant, and you will receive an appointment to meet with them around week 8-10 of your pregnancy.

Your health can have a heavy influence on your growing baby’s development, and so avoid drinking alcohol, taking illegal substances and smoking cigarettes throughout your onward pregnancy.


If you don’t want to be pregnant

It’s okay to feel this way and you should not hide from it. Everybody’s circumstances are different, and your doctor will not judge you, but booking an appointment with them is an essential first step. You may have already made your mind up about what you want but there may be other options available to explore. Your final decision should be carefully considered as it can ultimately change your life either way. Your options are…

• You have the baby – you may feel that your circumstances aren’t perfect, but you’re going to make it work.

• You have the baby, but you opt for adoption – this is a way of providing your child with new legal parents, which you see as the best outcome for you and baby.

• You end the pregnancy – you feel it is the right thing to do in your circumstances and you’ve thought a lot about it. To get an abortion you will need a referral from your doctor.

The important thing is that you stay calm and think rationally about your next steps. You’re not alone. If you still feel uncertain, there are organisations that can help. Visit our Contacts for Help page for more information.


You're pregnant - what next

Why choose an Early Bird Swift pregnancy test?

When it comes to buying a pregnancy test, different thoughts may affect your purchasing decision. Varying factors such as brand recognition and price may drive you one way or another when in the shopping aisle. However, would knowing more about the tests available affect what pregnancy test may be best suited to you? We discuss why Early Bird Swift could be the one for you…

Accuracy and speed

Early Bird Swift pregnancy tests are over 99% accurate (as per laboratory testing). A test delivers results in under 5 minutes. Better yet, the test works from the first day of an individual’s missed period. These features mean that you need not wait long to reach your moment of clarity, once you think you could be pregnant.

Trusted experience

With over 30 years of experience in pregnancy test development, Early Bird Swift has worked to perfect a product for our customers. This is reassuring for you, to know that our pregnancy tests can be trusted and serve their purpose. With a simple one step process and hygienic easy reach handle, we remain focused on the test’s laboratory performance, which stands the test of time.

Help and support

With Early Bird Swift, our solution for you doesn’t end with your test result. We understand that not everybody gets the result they are looking for when using Early Bird Swift, and you may need some advice. Our pregnancy test comes with a QR Code on its packaging, which you can scan with your smartphone to instantly access our Key Information webpage which gives advice for your next steps. There is also a ‘Contacts for Help’ webpage which advises of organisations that can help you if you are feeling uncertain, alone, upset or afraid, and Frequently Asked Questions webpage. An educational leaflet is further included within the test’s packaging for help and advice.


EBS Pregnancy Test

Taking a pregnancy test (reaching your moment of clarity)

Buying a pregnancy test can be a daunting process, whether you are hoping to be pregnant or not. Once you or a loved one has made this purchase, you’re one step closer to the clarity of finding out your result. You may feel that you’ve overcome one hurdle purchasing the test and now you face an even bigger one – because you face the unknown. This is only natural, but there are measures you can take to try and make yourself feel more at ease when you take a test.

A comfortable environment

When taking a test, you are more likely to feel relaxed if you are in a location where you are comfortable, such as your home. The build up to taking the test may have you feeling nervous, which is understandable. The last thing you need to be thinking about is paranoia and being unsettled so it is best to avoid performing a test in a public location or a workplace, if you can avoid it.

Support from loved ones

Have you confided in anyone about thinking you are pregnant? If you think having somebody such as a partner, a friend or a family member, close by when you take the test will help you feel more at ease then ask for their support. Whether you are shocked, scared or happy, having someone there with you for your moment of clarity can be of comfort to you. Ideally, your confidant will remain impartial and be there for you to talk to about how you feel.

Knowing your options

Beyond taking your pregnancy test, find comfort in the fact that help is always on hand. Whether you are planning for a baby, or not, and your test is positive – the next steps are up to you. If you are planning for a baby and your test is negative, there are options available to you and advice to take. You are not alone and remembering this before and after performing your test will help balance your mentality.

For help with your next steps please read our key information and visit our ‘Contacts for Help’ page.


Supporting vulnerable customers in the pharmacy

Working in a pharmacy, you are going to face vulnerable customers in store on a daily basis. Some customers know exactly what they need in store and it is a matter of fulfilling their prescriptions or purchasing over the counter products. Others may seem hesitant, nervous and need a little more help. This can certainly be the case for individuals looking to purchase a pregnancy or fertility test. Our tips aim to help you through a scenario where you meet a vulnerable customer, female or male, seeking help with pregnancy products.


Respect their privacy

Each individual is different. Some are more open than others about purchasing a pregnancy or fertility test, whilst some may seem distressed and even reluctant to ask about what they need. Respecting their privacy is essential, and their body language and behaviour will give you a gage on how much attention they want from you in store. Talk to them quietly and on a one-to-one basis, to avoid attention from other customers, and personally guide them towards the relevant products or even bring the products you recommend over to them at the till.



We do not know each individual’s situation or circumstances. Vulnerability cannot be defined by age, or limited to females only, as a male could be just as likely to come in to purchase a pregnancy or fertility test for another person. If a customer is visibly distressed, you should demonstrate empathy and compassion throughout their visit, and recognise the boundaries of your discussion. Be available to listen and show willing that we understand their emotions and can help them towards their moment of clarity. By showing no judgement we can make them feel more relaxed in the pharmacy environment.



The uncertainty of a pending pregnancy result can be very overwhelming. What to do next following clarity, will be on the individual’s mind. Sharing resources with them to consider their options may help to put them at ease. Every Early Bird Swift pregnancy test comes with a key information leaflet about pregnancy, contraception, relationships and sex. It also shares contact information for organisations and charities who can help people confidentially.

If you meet a customer of whom you are genuinely concerned for their welfare, confide in another member of staff and if necessary, contact the emergency services.

The advisory information supplied in our leaflets is also available here:


Vulnerable customers