Is there room for my community pharmacy online?
It’s true that there are lots of different companies selling pharmacy products online – from Pharmacy Direct right down to your local competition. But here’s something else that’s true: the number of people buying pharmaceutical products is incredibly high.
Time and time again, we hear the same thing, “online is already dominated by the big players, what’s the point in my pharmacy competing online.” And we can see why you might think this is the case. After all, large online pharmacies like Chemist Warehouse in Australia and Pharmacy Direct in New Zealand are selling online, as well as individual pharmacies. So how can there be room in the market for you?
We’re pleased to say that there’s plenty of room for you. Here’s why, and how you can succeed.
It's a big market and it's growing
It’s true that there are lots of different companies selling pharmacy products online – from Pharmacy Direct right down to your local competition. But here’s something else that’s true: the number of people buying pharmaceutical products is incredibly high. There are so many competitors because the pharmacy market is enormous – everyone needs medicine at some point and it’s not slowing down as our growing population ages!
Although the online pharmacy market has only gained traction in recent years, it has become a powerful force in the industry. With 1 in 10 Google Searches being health related, there is an enormous amount of opportunity available. Typically, it has been untapped by independent community pharmacies. But with the high amount of traffic available, especially locally where Google already rewards your location relevance, someone needs to meet that demand – and your pharmacy may as well be there to be considered as an option!
...you don't have to be the best to be successful
It’s easy to look at the number of competitors out there, and tell yourself you could never beat them. But here’s the thing – you don’t have to win!
You don’t need to take the majority, or even a large chunk of this market. Rather, you just need to carve out enough business to suit the needs of your pharmacy and the location of your pharmacy already gives you an advantage online in your local communities. Proportionally, this is a very tiny chunk of the total number of people looking to buy pharmacy products. Now that doesn’t seem like such a hard challenge! So how do you do that?
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Be clear about what you offer
To carve out that tiny chunk, you do need to offer something makes your pharmacy stand out. This doesn’t have to mean the lowest price, or exclusive products. It could be as simple as “the closest location,” or even “a smaller shop that’s easier to pop into.
Or it could be any number of other things. There’s one easy way to find out – talk to your customers! Choose some of your favourite, long–term customers, and ask them if you can borrow 15 minutes of their time. Then ask them why they choose to come into your pharmacy – you might be surprised by the answer!
After you talk to a few customers, some themes will start to develop. It might be your location. It might be the advice you give in person. It might be something else entirely. But once you’ve spoken to your customers, you’ll be able to find some common threads between them.
Now it’s time to put that knowledge to work.
How can you deliver this advantage online?
When you know why people do business with you, you can get your pharmacy online and spread that advantage to the 46% of people who start their searches for health services online.
For example, you might find that lots of your customers live nearby, and shop with you because of your location. If this is the case, a click and collect service could be perfect! They’ve already indicated that convenience is important, and they like to come into the shop, so you can make their trip in store even more convenient.
Or you can flip this around. You may find that some customers really like the personal touch of getting advice from you, but they don’t like waiting in line to speak to you. If you can get some of your other customers buying things online, this may save you time – and free up staff in the store.
So, speak to your customers, find out what makes them tick and why they choose your pharmacy. From there, you can put together an online service that really plays to your strengths – and positions your pharmacy to deliver a solid customer experience that the big players just can’t match.
There's more where that came from!
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