If you’ve ever participated in a competitive race 一 whether at a high school track meet or a community 5K 一 you’ve probably picked up on a few principles.

You’ve learned how to monitor your pace, how to lengthen your strides, and how to control your breathing. Over time, you’ve mastered your technique and learned a few tricks of the trade along the way.

And, if you’re a seasoned pro, maybe you’ve even figured out the secret to success: it’s not the runner who starts the fastest but who finishes the strongest that wins.

Running a pharmacy is a lot like running a race. How you start is important, but how you maintain and how you finish is what really matters. When you make the decision to open a pharmacy, you need the right tools to kickstart your business 一 to kickstart your race 一 but, more importantly, you need those tools to keep the pace with you.

Of all the tools that you use, your pharmacy software system is the most important.

Many systems can get you started, but few will continue to support you to the end of your race. The trick, then, is finding a system that will run with you every step of the way. Your best resource in this search? Direct Opinions.

Direct Opinions: A Guiding Light

In a sea of opinions, recommendations, and reviews, Direct Opinions is your best bet in getting accurate, honest information. Direct Opinions is an independent market research firm that connects real pharmacists to real, unbiased reviews so that they can get the tools they need to succeed.

Every year, Direct Opinions conducts double-blind, over-the-phone interviews with independent pharmacists and asks about their experiences with their current software system. Then, it quantifies those answers and arranges them into 4 comparable categories. The categories include:

  • Market Share + Customer Satisfaction
  • Conversion Rates
  • New Store Installations
  • Competitive Gain

A few weeks ago, Direct Opinions released its 2021 survey results. In this 4-part series, we will explore each category, its results, and its implications.

Today, though, we will hone in on the category that is most important to pharmacists looking to start and finish strong: Competitive Gain.

The Real Measure of Success

Competitive gain is a metric used to measure the number of pharmacies that start, and stick with, a particular software system.

Competitive gain is calculated using the number of pharmacies that picked a particular vendor (gain), divided by the number of pharmacies that either picked or switched from a vendor (total number of pharmacies).

Competitive gain shows which vendors are able to attract 一 and more importantly, keep 一 their customers. A high competitive gain means that more pharmacies picked a vendor to start with and ended up sticking with them in the weeks, months, and years that followed. A low competitive gain means that more pharmacies started with a vendor but ultimately decided to switch to a new one.

There are a number of factors that contribute to whether pharmacies stick with their software system or not. The top reasons pharmacists they cite for staying, though, are:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Strong customer support
  3. Software performance and features

With this in mind, it is no surprise that competitive gain can give an indication of customer satisfaction. Thus, it can help you predict whether you will be satisfied with your software 一 not only at the beginning of your race but all the way to the end.

The Results Are In...

In the graph below, the top 6 software vendors were measured according to their competitive gain percentage. Customers gained are represented in green, and customers lost are represented in red. The results can be seen here:

According to these results, PioneerRx had the highest competitive gain when weighing the number of customers it gained versus the number of customers it lost in 2021.

In total, PioneerRx kept 95% of its total customers and only lost 5%.

After PioneerRx, Micro Merchant Systems held the next highest competitive gain, keeping 88% of its customer base.

In third place was ComputerRx, which retained 85% of its total customers.

Right after ComputerRx came Rx30, which kept 83% of its customers.

Moving down the line, McKesson held 53% of its customer base 一 having lost almost as many customers as it gained.

And, finally, QS/1 kept 47% of its customers, meaning that it actually lost more customers than it gained.

Changes in the Rankings: 2020 to 2021

While the 2021 Direct Opinions results give the most accurate picture of a vendor’s competitive gain, past results can offer valuable insight, too. Comparing results from 2020 to 2021 can help determine which vendors have improved, which ones have remained the same, and which ones have fallen behind.

With this in mind, the 2020 Direct Opinions results can be seen here:

In 2020, PioneerRx had the highest competitive gain, coming in at 97%. It continues to keep this lead in 2021, which indicates consistently high performance.

After PioneerRx, ComputerRx took second place in 2020, keeping 88% of customers. In 2021, though, it fell in the third-place spot.

Micro Merchant Systems came in third place in 2020, but in 2021, it improved its performance and moved up a spot in the rankings. It now sits in second.

Next came Liberty, which took the fourth-place spot in 2020 with 81% of its customers staying. In 2021, though, it sat unranked.

After Liberty was Pharmaserv (McKesson), which kept 41% of customers in 2020, indicating a negative customer gain. In 2021, it moved up slightly in the rankings, to fifth place.

And, finally, QS/1 ranked last in 2020, keeping only 34% of its customers. It holds this same position in 2021.

For a full breakdown of the 2020 results, visit our blog, Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Competitive gain is an important measure of success. It can be used to predict whether you will be happy with your pharmacy software system, both now and later. By extension, it can show you which vendors have the endurance to run your race with you 一 and which ones can carry you all the way to the finish line.

When you shop for your next pharmacy software system, keep competitive gain in mind and choose a vendor that can go the distance.