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Here’s a Method That’s Helping Independent Pharmacies Find Their Competitive Advantage

Here’s a Method That’s Helping Independent Pharmacies Find Their Competitive Advantage by Elements magazine |

August 9, 2017

In the pharmacy industry, competition is fierce.

You can serve your patients well, feel like you’re doing everything right, and still lose them to your competitors.

If it’s not the national chain pharmacy on the corner, it’s the big box store a few miles away. Or, more often than not, it’s both.

To stay successful, your pharmacy needs to gain a competitive advantage.

And to find your competitive advantage, you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
  2. What do you do better than your competitors?
  3. How are you letting patients know?


Can You Answer These Questions? How to Find Your Pharmacy’s Competitive Advantage


What do you offer that your competitors don’t?

While pharmacies provide nearly the same product inventory, they all vary on their service offerings. Expand your pharmacy’s services to carve out a competitive advantage. Discover what pharmacies near you are offering. Then, offer services that those pharmacies don’t (in addition to what they do).

Here are some service offering ideas:


All your competitors dispense prescription medications and offer front-end items. You don’t have control over the prescriptions, but you do control your front-end inventory.

Differentiating your retail products could be enough to give you a competitive advantage. A patient looking to stay well, for example, may choose your pharmacy because you offer specialized nutritional supplements in addition to what other pharmacies offer. Consider providing unique over-the-counter (OTC) products to set your pharmacy apart (think outside the box).

The more value you provide to your patients, the more reasons they’ll have to choose your pharmacy over the one down the street.

What do you do better than your competitors?

Before you can develop your competitive advantage, you need to first define what your customers want and then determine how well you address those wants.

Based on a survey by AccentHealth and Drug Store News, here are a few of the main patient concerns that your pharmacy can find an edge in.

Customer service
Independent pharmacies stake their value in customer service, but what sets yours apart from the others? Everyone says their service is the best, but is yours really?

When you’re filling hundreds of prescriptions per day, sometimes service and personal interaction fall by the wayside without you even realizing it. Make your patients your priority. They’ll notice it and you’ll keep your competitive edge.

Wait times
Patients today are used to getting what they want when they want it. Make sure your pharmacy implements an efficient workflow system that minimizes wait times.

If you already do that, make sure potential patients know about it by getting reviews and referrals from satisfied patients. When a patient knows your wait time is always less than another pharmacy’s, that could be the reason she chooses your pharmacy over theirs’.

All it takes to give your competition the edge is to mess up one prescription. Getting it wrong makes your pharmacy look like it either doesn’t have a reliable system or doesn’t care about its patients.

Set your pharmacy apart by ensuring you accurately fill prescriptions. Then, use marketing to spread the word with precise statistics. (For example, “We have 100 percent accuracy on our prescription fills.”) Also, consider offering a guarantee promising to refund patients if you get anything wrong.

Do you have a drive-through? Are you offering curbside pickup? Do offer prescription delivery? These simple conveniences could give you the edge over other pharmacies that might only offer walk-in.

How are you letting patients know?

You must invest in marketing to fully gain a competitive advantage. If consumers don’t know that you’re the best at what you do, it won’t matter.

A pharmacy that offers fewer services can still win over patients simply by having better marketing.

Your marketing strategy should emphasize the benefits that set your pharmacy apart from others.

Make your pharmacy succeed by finding your competitive advantage. 


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