Does a small town pharmacy need an online presence?
In this article, we bust some myths around small town pharmacies, and show why small town pharmacies need to be just as online as pharmacies in urban centres.
If you’re running a pharmacy in a smaller town, you may think that you don’t need a website. After all, you might be one of just a few pharmacists, so not only do the residents know about you, they also don’t have many alternatives when it comes to shopping for their medicine.
Or do they? We’re going to bust some of these myths around small town pharmacies, and show why small town pharmacies need to be just as online as pharmacies in urban centres. Read on:
You have more competition than you think
Let’s start with your competition. You might think you have a lock on pharmacy services, especially if you’re in a particularly small town. After all, your customers would have to drive a pretty long way to get their medicine from someone else.
But remember, we’re in an online world now. If your customers don’t mind waiting a couple of days, they can easily get lots of pharmacy products from online pharmacies like Chemist Warehouse or Pharmacy Direct, or even other smaller pharmacies in different towns. If you’re not online, you’re passing up the opportunity to compete. Use your locality and convenience to your advantage and respond to the changing needs of modern consumers by getting your pharmacy online . After all, that’s where your customers are, regardless of where they live!
This is particularly true for rural areas
Your town may be small in terms of population, but large in terms of geography. A trip to town to get medication might be a significant use of time for someone who works on a farm – time that farmers are unlikely to be able to spare in their busy seasons. So by getting online, you can let these customers shop online from a trusted local source, rather than one of your competitors.
This is a great way to deepen your business relationship with far-flung farmers. Next time they come into the store to buy something, give them your card, and tell them they can buy things from you through your website now. Easy!
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Everyone knows everyone - not always a benefit
One advantage of being a pharmacist – or running any business – in a smaller town is that you may not need to put as much effort into marketing. Since there aren’t as many people, word of mouth travels a lot faster than it would in the bigger cities. Everyone knows everyone!
But this isn’t always a good thing. Some medical conditions are a bit embarrassing for some people. And if your customers think they’re going to run into their neighbour at the pharmacy, they may be less-inclined to pop in to grab what they need.
In the past, this was just something people had to deal with. But now people have an alternative, they can Google their symptoms and buy what they need online. This means they never have to run the risk of running into a friend or acquaintance who they’d rather not share personal information with.
At the same time, not everyone wants to wait for their medication. You can provide a middle ground through in-store pickup services. If you get online, and let people order online, but pick their (discretely packaged) products up in store, you can give them the best of both worlds – anonymity and immediacy.
Is your town as small as you think?
Your town may be small, and you may be one of just a few pharmacists. But can you honestly say that you know everyone? Even a very small town will probably have a thousand people in the wider area.
Lots of these people will be your customers already, but not all of them will be. When these potential customers need a pharmacist, they’re probably going to start looking with an internet search.
If your pharmacy comes up in one of these searches, then congratulations! You just got another customer. But if it doesn’t, they could well go somewhere else – they might get their medicine from a big online pharmacy, one of your local competitors, or they may even just drive to the next town over! After all, if they don’t know you exist and that you have what they need, they can’t buy anything from you.
On top of this, don’t forget about people who are travelling through or near your town. If someone is passing by, and (for example), they get a nosebleed, they’re probably going to do an internet search for local pharmacies. If your pharmacy is online, not only will you appear in these searches, your new customer will also be able to find you on Google Maps when he or she comes in for some cotton swabs. That’s a sale you wouldn’t have otherwise made!
So get your pharmacy online. Get a simple website, gear up for online selling, and give your small town customers the experience and service they deserve.
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