The name of the game is adaptation. For independent pharmacies, being ahead of the curve is essential. Innovation is basically a prerequisite for running your small business.
There are plenty of avenues you can go through to further modernize your independent pharmacy. All businesses are jumping into the online marketplace, which customers find more convenient than waiting in long lines.
Though your independent pharmacy might not be as crowded as before, there are still plenty of ways to maximize your profits.
Enter online pharmacy. You want to be where your patients are, delivering services that will entice them. Online pharmacy is a superb way to be at the forefront of quality patient care.
Here are some of the best online pharmacy practices for your small business.
What Is (And Isn’t) an Online Pharmacy?
When talking about an online pharmacy, we’re mainly referring to an online accompaniment to your physical retail pharmacy. It involves pharmacy delivery services (more on that in our “What to Know Before Getting an Independent Pharmacy Delivery Service” blog) and mobile apps.
The crux of online pharmacy is delivering all your pharmacy’s services directly to the patient. It is meant to be a quicker, more convenient way for patients to get their medications.
The best online pharmacy lets the patient be actively involved in their respective health journeys.
This is separate from the other kind of online pharmacies, which are unofficial and unregulated pharmacies that illegally dispense medications. The online pharmacy we’re referring to enhances your ability to provide exceptional care to your patients.
A research paper from the National Library of Medicine goes into great detail about how the other kind of online pharmacies can harm its patients and the industry.
Optimize Your Website
The best online pharmacy — or any kind of pharmacy for that matter — does more than fill a prescription. Another way to look at this: there are more ways to generate a profit than filling a prescription.
Your OTC products are an important factor in your independent pharmacy’s success. To shift these services online, you’ll need a website that your patients can easily navigate.
Simplicity is key here. Though you may not be an expert in web design, there’s someone who is. You can hire a web designer to help out with your website’s design, though that will likely be a sizable financial investment.
There are plenty of website makers such as Squarespace that make the website designing process a bit easier. This might be worth looking into if you prefer to be more directly involved in your website’s design.
Your pharmacy’s website needs to be easy to use for all your patient demographics, especially the less tech-savvy ones. It should also accurately show your pharmacy’s available over-the-counter products — even your grocery products (yes, really).
You need to be strongly committed to your pharmacy’s trek into the online realm. The easier your website’s design — and the wider your inventory is — the better.
Embrace Brand Recognition
Word-of-mouth is a vital part of your independent pharmacy’s success. Your patients need to be familiar with your pharmacy’s services and — perhaps more importantly — its name.
Brand recognition goes a long way in developing a loyal customer base. It is also the foundation of your online pharmacy’s success.
As mentioned before, a large subsect of online pharmacies is unregulated and unsafe. Naturally, patients may distrust online pharmacies that they don’t know.
Alleviate that mistrust by jampacking your website or app with your pharmacy’s name. Every page should clearly show the user or patient that they are in the safe, reliable hands of your trusted independent pharmacy.
Not only will this assure new patients that they are dealing with a legitimate pharmacy, but it will also strengthen your pharmacy’s relationship with its patients.
The best online pharmacy is the one people remember. Be a staple of your community — both physical and online — by politely reminding them of your exceptional abilities as a healthcare professional.
Make Your Online Pharmacy Known Through Social Media
You’re doing all sorts of innovative things in your innovative pharmacy. Now it’s time to let everyone know about it.
Promote your online pharmacy through your already-established social media pages. It will help get your online pharmacy off the ground. Your followers can refer their friends who prefer online services to your pharmacy. And just like that — you have a new patient.
What Your Patients Need to Look Out For
Online pharmacy is a relatively new frontier for the industry. As we established earlier, this uncharted territory can be subject to fraud and unethical pharmaceutical practices.
If your patient asks about an online-exclusive pharmacy, inform them of the potential warning signs.
The big sign of concern is if the pharmacy claims to not require a prescription. Prescription medications require a prescription to be filled. Open and shut.
Another best online pharmacy practice is that they’re verified by the National Association of State Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Owning an independent pharmacy requires a litany of business and pharmacy regulations, so seeing one that has no such credentials is a major red flag.
How about their staff? Make sure your patients steer clear of pharmacies that do not have any licensed professionals. That goes for pharmacy techs and especially pharmacists.
Your independent pharmacy can deter your patients from going down that route by providing quality online services.
Be the best online pharmacy option for your community. Make sure your online pharmacy is in as good shape as your actual pharmacy counters.
Your independent pharmacy is capable of providing even more convenient and better services for your community. Though delving into the online realm is a hefty investment in multiple ways, the reward drastically outweighs the risks.
Make sure your independent pharmacy’s app is up and running. Have your pharmacy’s website be a sleek, aesthetically pleasing, and easy-to-use way for your patients to navigate. The easier you make things for your patient, the more likely they will return and refer their friends to your small business.