21st century retail: my trip to Rite-Aid

I went to Rite-Aid the other day to get some Aleve.  I was away from home, in a rural area more than 100 miles from the nearest Costco, and not at a place where I could get same-day delivery from Amazon (270 Aleve tablets for $18 ($0.07 each).

I had several choices:

–100 generic (naproxen sodium) tablets for $9 ($.09 ea.),

–200 generic for $14 ($.07 ea.)

–100 Aleve for $11  ($.11 ea.),

–200 Aleve for $20 ($0.10 ea.), or

–270 generic for $14.50 ($0.05 ea.).

I took the 270.

What really struck me was the fact that I got the final 70 tablets for a total of $0.50.  That’s $0.007 each.  Assuming that Rite-Aid wasn’t paying me to cart them away, the most it could have paid for the tablets was $0.007 apiece.  Multiply by 270 and you get about $1.90.

Doing the analysts’s mountain-out-of-a-molehill thing, and assuming Rite-Aid buys from the manufacturer, I conclude that $1.90 is the most it could have paid for the container of tablets I bought.

The $12.60 that remains is the cost of packaging, distribution, promotion …plus profit.  (Overall, Rite-Aid isn’t making money, even though it has a positive gross margin of about 22%.  SG&A pushes it into loss, so delete “profit” from the packaging… list.)

That Rite-Aid can’t make money despite a 600%+ markup says a lot about the company.  But it also says something about bricks-and-mortar retail, the way Rite-Aid gets its products in front of customers.

This is the AMZN success story in a nutshell:  all it has to do is deliver a $2 item to a customer and spend less than $12.60 to do it.


My trip to Home Depot tomorrow.








2 responses

  1. Hi

    I hope you find your studying interesting anf fulfilling.

    I just read your post and i didn’t understand how you have derived to the conclusion that the tablet would have cost $0.0072 at most.
    “Assuming that Rite-Aid wasn’t paying me to cart them away, the most it could have paid for the tablets was $0.0072 apiece. Multiply by 270 and you get about $1.90.”

    And if you can explain the Amz issue it will be great.
    Many thanks and good luck,

  2. Hi Miki. I’m enjoying school and learning a lot. I’m continually way behind, though, mostly, I think, because I have less experience than most of my fellow students. Bad for the ego but I’ll learn the most and the fastest this way.

    On the tablets, what I wrote is, at best, very unclear. Really, it’s wrong. The point I was trying to make, which is true of a surprisingly large amount of stuff sold in bricks and mortar stores, is that the cost of the physical items themselves is relatively trivial.

    The price I paid per extra unit in the 270 unit container vs the 200 unit one is $0.00714. For some reason that no longer makes any sense to me, I rounded the number up to $0.0072. That got me a cost number for Rite-Aid that was a tiny bit too big rather than having one ($0.007) that was a tiny bit too small. All I did was confuse the issue. I’m going to edit out the 2.

    Thanks. Dan

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