Competing in the Age of Amazon

As an independent pharmacy, you are invaluable to your local community. You know and care about your patients. You’re reliable, knowledgeable, and accurate. Compared to chain pharmacies, you’re less likely to make miscalculations, mix up prescriptions, or file patient information incorrectly. And there’s one important thing that PillPack by Amazon–your newest competitor–doesn’t have that you do: customer service.

Community pharmacies will always stand to lose the patients who prioritize price or convenience over anything else. Don’t let that bother you. Instead, focus on those who see the value in your independent pharmacy. Patients choose pharmacies like yours because of your dedication to outstanding, face-to-face customer service. But that’s not all.

Here are four additional  advantages you have over Amazon’s online pharmacy:

Staying involved in your community

In addition to being a pharmacist, you spend time in your community helping wherever you can. Your involvement matters. Whether you sponsor community events or help out in local schools on occasion, you’re making an impact on the community that goes way beyond the walls of your pharmacy. Your community knows you as their local pharmacist and will admire your dedication to the entirety of the community.

Understanding your patients and the market

Whether you grew up in your community or have spent many years there and consider yourself a local, there’s no one more fit to provide healthcare. You know exactly who your audience is and what they want from a healthcare provider.

Caring about your patients

They’re more than just a number to you. In fact, you’ve built relationships with many of your patients and their family members over the years. Every little step you’ve taken to get to know each patient truly matters.

Bettering the lives of your patients

By knowing your patients and their stories, you can increase adherence and really improve their lives. Checking in on their medication and/or reminding them about vaccines shows that you are advocating for your patients’ health. Relationships are the one thing people want, and as the pharmacist, you provide it.

When it comes to medicine, people prefer someone they can talk to and who knows them. An online retailer doesn’t know its customers in the same way, and they certainly won’t answer the phone past work hours when a patient has an emergency.

Another concern with online retailers is that patients worry about their medications getting stolen, arriving late, or getting damaged. They also worry about the lack of clarity and customer service from the larger chains and central fill companies. If a mistake is found or a change needs to be made in their prescription, patients will have to wait on the phone to speak with a representative. The downside is that there’s no guarantee it’ll be corrected by the next time their medications are mailed out.

As an independent pharmacist, you’re able to check in with your patients before scheduled deliveries and make any prescription changes before their medications are packaged. Your patients also have the option to visit your pharmacy and have a face-to-face conversation with you to get all of their questions answered. If you offer “on demand” packaging (by systems such as the RapidPakRx), you can deliver an even higher level of service.

Many community pharmacies like yours also have the capacity to offer the same high-tech conveniences as online retailers, such as smartphone apps where you can request refills. And they’re more personalized. You can even deliver to the front door or offer curbside pickup.

Offer free delivery of your adherence pouch packaging and communicate a time when the prescriptions will be dropped off by a pharmacy staff member. This will help ensure that the medications don’t get lost or sit on their 90-degree porch all day while they’re at work.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Not only will your patients keep coming back, but word will get around town, inviting new patients through your doors.

A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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