In recent years, online pharmacies have gone from a niche sector of the market that were perceived as somewhat dubious by consumers and the pharmacy industry alike, to a credible form of competition in the market. This rapid evolution and sophistication of online companies poses a huge threat to small and large high street pharmacies alike, as low costs and convenient postage attracts a growing number of customers.
So how does your pharmacy remain competitive in light of this threat? Let’s take a look at how to boost your business and retain a loyal customer base.
A Friendly Face
One huge advance that independent pharmacists have over their online counterparts is that valuable connection with the patient. Health and medicine are sensitive topics, and price isn’t always the greatest concern for customers. The way in which your patients perceive your pharmacy is therefore of great importance. You need to give them a reason to leave the house for your service, rather than going online.
Do they face long queues, unhelpful staff and a simple delivery of their prescriptions when they visit your store, or do they get great customer service from a genuinely helpful pharmacist who is able to talk through their medication and offer expert advice? Take a step back and evaluate your services – if you slip into the first category then you may want to rethink your approach.
Getting an appointment with a GP can be a nightmare for patients, and yet in many cases they don’t really need to speak with a doctor, just a medical professional. Letting your community know that they can drop into your chemist or pharmacy to get expert advice can really boost your services. And by offering a private consultation room, patients will feel much more comfortable about visiting your store to talk about their concerns in confidence.
Extend Your Services
There are a huge number of ways that you can increase your business as a pharmacy if you are willing to branch out, and you only need to look at the major chain pharmacies to see how others do it. Someone may not come to you for their repeat prescription alone, but if they can get their travel jabs, eye test, beauty products and photo developments done in-store at the same time then you suddenly become the go-to place in the community for a wide variety of products and services.
Think about how you can improve your utility to the local community, to reduce your reliance on solely pharmaceuticals.
Instead of simply worrying about the threat of internet pharmacies, take the initiative with your business and work on ways that you can become more convenient for your customers. Try to understand the problems and requirements that patients in the community have, and by extending your services and product range to meet these you can ride the wave of the online revolution to become stronger than ever. Step up to the challenge and show what the high street pharmacy can offer.
Article written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, a freelance copywriter from Yorkshire. You can follow him on Twitter on @KellyGGrassam. This article was written with useful information from Pharma Protect