Having an online presence in today’s world is vital. It’s where the majority of customer journeys start. With a quick Google search or the opening of an app on their phone, they can check out a store before they decide to shop there. The same goes for purchasing their medications.
E-commerce isn’t new. In fact, its growth has been quick due to customer demands and the recent pandemic. As a result, the days of running to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription have slowed way down. Healthcare services have gone virtual, and ordering prescriptions online has become crucial. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to be coming to a halt anytime soon, as many consumers have grown comfortable with the instant gratification the web offers. This is why your online presence is paramount to keep up with the Joneses.
If you don’t have an online presence for your pharmacy just yet, don’t panic. Breathe in, breathe out, and keep reading. This is your first step. This will be your digital storefront. It’ll be your own space to publish all of the information about your products and services. The easiest way to whip up your own website is to check out free builder tools, such as Wix, Weebly, and Mailchimp, which provide easy-to-use templates for simple websites.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check out your competitions’ websites. What about the site stands out most, the design or content? What are their unique selling points? If you don’t already have a site, think how you’d like your own website designed and laid out. If you already have one, check to see if you can improve it in any way. Does it need to be more personable?
Remember: Your website reflects your business. A good site includes a welcome message to its visitors and information on what sets your pharmacy apart from others. Give it your own personal touch, and add an emotional call to action. In other words, pinpoint the user’s problem and tell them how you plan to help them. Add a personal photo of yourself, your employees, and add some photos of your physical pharmacy store. By bringing out an emotional connection between you and your website users, they’ll feel a genuine connection and find your pharmacy more relatable.
Once designed, put yourself in your patients’ shoes. Look closely at your website and ask yourself: Is your website user-friendly and easy to navigate? Does the design match your brand? Is the text easy to read and understand? Did you highlight main points and to customer needs? Do all of the pages have the same text size, font, and color scheme? If your site is missing even one of these, go back and fix it. You’ll be happy you did.
If you already have a website, have you updated it in the past year or two? If your site’s design and information date back more than a year, it’s time to take action. An outdated website is sure to make viewers click the little “x” in the corner and move on to another pharmacy’s site.
As part of your website’s update, include some of the following additions to help drive more patients to your site and keep them coming back:
- Health blog. Have a blog page on your site where you write monthly or weekly articles on healthcare news, new drug treatments, vaccines, or whatever is on your mind. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to market your blog effectively so it gets regular viewers, and add a photo to each of your posts.
- Refill/transfer page. In today’s world, your patients want an effortless way to order their prescriptions. Adding a page on your website where they can refill or transfer their prescriptions will have them coming back to your site regularly.
- Online shop. A shopping page on your website will make it easy for your patients to buy the things they want or need without having to leave their home. You can sell anything from personal-care products and diabetes supplies to vitamins and OTC medications. Offering next-day delivery is something people expect from online retailers. Implementing a system of paperless prescriptions and delivery will keep your patients happy, and it will expand your business beyond local constraints.
- Contact page. This is important. Without your contact information, how will prospective patients know how to reach you? Include your pharmacy phone number and your email address so patients know that they can always contact you with questions or comments.
Add personality and flair to your brand and connect with your audience in a more conversational way. But before you choose your platform, first identify your customer base. If you’re in an area surrounded by college students, having a presence on Instagram or TikTok would be appropriate. However, TikTok would not be a good choice for an older audience. Facebook, however, is the perfect place for consumers to find store information such as hours, location, and any promotions going on. Plus, it’s a great way for your pharmacy to interact with the community and maintain a presence with potential customers.
Google My Business
This is one of the most important social media marketing tools for your pharmacy. Not only is it free, but it’s easy to use and can help customers find you. Be sure to include essential information like your opening times, street address, phone number, email address, and website address.
When people are finding directions to their destination, a good number of them rely on Google Maps. If your independent pharmacy isn’t already there, this is a wonderful opportunity to gain new patients. People searching for pharmacies on Google Maps clearly don’t already have one, or at least, one that they love.
Easily add your pharmacy to Google Maps by following these steps from broadly.com:
- Sign into your Google My Business account
- Add new location on business homepage
- Enter your business name and business address
- Drop a pin (show where your business is located)
- Confirm business details
- Verify your business
Not sure if your business already exists on Google Maps? Go to google.com and enter your business name and city in the search bar. Click the Search button and then click a tab that says Maps. You should see a map of your area with listings of business names similar to yours. If yours doesn’t appear, you’re not on Google Maps yet. If you do see your business appear, and you didn’t add it yourself, follow the necessary steps to “claim your business on Google.” From there, you’ll be verified and given access as the owner.
One of the top places your pharmacy needs to be seen is on your patients’ smartphones. According to Statista, the number of global smartphone users in 2022 is 6.648 billion, or 83.32 percent of the world’s population. Pharmacies that don’t have an online presence will find it difficult to keep up with consumer demands.
The simplicity of ordering low-cost drugs from the comfort of home has eliminated your patients’ need to go anywhere. They can order their medications online or through an app and refill their prescriptions easily. As an added bonus, most pharmacies now offer curbside pickup, in-store pickup, and/or home delivery.
If you don’t yet have an app for your pharmacy, now is the time to look into one. A mobile app makes is easier to increase brand awareness and competitiveness. Mobile access to your pharmacy and staff can lead to better prescription management, better customer service, and patients can manage their health more efficiently and discreetly. When you’re ready to start looking into building your own pharmacy app, here are a few of the top platforms to check out:
- Digital Pharmacist (digitalpharmacist.com)
- Paubox (paubox.com)
- Solutionreach (solutionreach.com)
- Spruce Health (sprucehealth.com)
- Weave (getweave.com)
When you have an online presence, you’ll get the most out of today’s consumer interest in online pharmaceutical services. You’ll improve care for your patients by adopting the right technology and software solutions, which will make your independent pharmacy stand out from the crowd and remain competitive.
From the Magazine
This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.
More articles from the December 2022 issue:
- Increasing Patient-Care Services
- Your HSA Has Your Back
- Your Pharmacy’s Online Presence
- Rev Up Your Revenue in 2023
- Providing Routine Health Screenings
- The Best Apps for Your Pharmacy
- Cashing in on the Sniffles
- Aggression in the Pharmacy
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 run 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 warehouse 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.