December 14, 2015
A leg up on your pharmacy’s competition might be found in an unexpected place—the curb.
“Curbside pickup gives the independent pharmacy an alternative solution to a drive-thru,” said Mike Gross, vice president of sales and marketing at Retail Management Solutions (RMS), a pharmacy point-of-sale technology company.
“Almost all big box store pharmacies offer a drive-thru for their customers,” Gross said, but a drive-thru isn’t feasible for many independent community pharmacies.
Limited space, non-conducive building layouts and remodeling expenses are hurdles for independents that want to put in a drive-thru. But curbside pickup can offer patients the same convenience of picking up prescriptions without leaving their car, while also helping your business compete with drive-thru services.
“It levels the playing field,” Gross said.
To operate a curbside pickup program, pharmacies need point-of-sale technology that allows them to process payments outside of the pharmacy’s checkout area.
Gross said RMS offers pharmacies a technology payment solution that does just that—EvolutionPOS. This device allows employees to capture payment information and signatures at the patient’s car.
Here’s how it works. Patients call the pharmacy and mention the prescription they need to pick up and tell the pharmacist if they need any front-end products. Or, patients can sign up to receive the same set of products each month.
Before the patient arrives, an employee scans all of the items being purchased, and that information is saved on the device. When the patient arrives, an employee brings the prescription and the EvolutionPOS mobile device curbside and collects the patient’s payment at the curb. The device accepts cash, checks, credit and debit cards, and house charge payments, making the transaction flexible and simple for patients.
“Not only can you get real-time credit card approval, but you can also print a receipt on the spot,” Gross said. “The employee is literally bringing the cash register to the patient.”
This technology also allows you to record notes and counseling conversations, just like you normally would at the pharmacy counter.
“Once the transaction is completed, all the transaction information is sent in real time back to the point-of-sale server inside the store, which then can be communicated back to the pharmacy management system.”
Gross said pharmacies should consider a couple of criteria to determine if offering curbside pickup is right for them.
First, examine your competition. If your competition offers a drive-thru or home delivery, providing curbside pickup might be a good idea to stay competitive.
Next, examine your patient base and your patients’ needs. For example, patients who might benefit from a curbside pickup option include patients with young kids who want to avoid the hassle of getting their kids out of their car seats to pick up a prescription.
Elderly patients who might not want to leave their car during inclement weather, and patients who might have difficulty getting out of their vehicles would also benefit.
If offering curbside pickup seems like a good fit for your pharmacy, you only need to complete a few steps to get started.
Begin by designating a parking space in your lot for curbside pickup. Make sure your designated spot doesn’t block any handicap spaces, and that you comply with any local regulations. Then, be sure to clearly mark the spot with a sign. Also, allow enough space next to the designated spot for your employees to deliver the prescription.
Once you have a parking spot, the sign, and the necessary software and hardware set up, it’s time to promote the service to your patients.
“It’s important that the pharmacy gets the word out, whether that’s through a local newspaper or radio ad, or just word-of-mouth,” Gross said.
Spread the word by stuffing flyers into pharmacy bags that go out with each prescription, and also target patients who would benefit from the service the most, such as elderly patients, patients with mobility challenges and patients with kids.
“Curbside pickup addresses certain patient needs that may not be currently addressed,” Gross said.
Ultimately, incorporating a curbside pickup service into your pharmacy can enhance your customer service, and it gives patients another reason to stay with your pharmacy.
“I’m a believer that once customers experience this new level of service, they’ll never take their business elsewhere,” Gross said.
For a limited time, RMS is offering a free curbside pickup sign with purchase of its EvolutionPOS device. Learn more at rm-solutions.com.
Get your curbside pickup program ready to go with these steps.
1. Designate a space
Mark a space in your pharmacy’s parking lot with a sign that reads “Reserved for Curbside Pickup.”
2. Get the technology
Talk with your point-of-sale (POS) vendor about acquiring a mobile POS tool that enables curbside transactions.
3. Train employees
Designate and train your employees to deliver prescriptions and counseling to patients picking up their prescriptions curbside.