It’s no secret that the internet is here to stay, and you’re starting to think about your options to get your pharmacy online to make the most of it. Here’s the thing: what now? How do you make sure you get a website that works for you, rather than the other way around?

Lots of pharmacy owners choose to just outsource this task by partnering with a service provider. But outsourcing important work like this isn’t a matter of "out of sight, out of mind." There are some questions you need to ask to make sure you’re getting the website you need to make your business thrive. Take a look:

1. How long is it going to take?

This question seems obvious, but remember that setting up a website isn’t just a matter of how long it takes your provider. It’s also going to take some input from you. Make sure you don’t fall into a false economy.

For example, if one provider is going to charge you a smaller amount than another, but is also going to require hours of your time, then that smaller amount quickly becomes a lot larger when you account for your own hourly rate. So be sure to find out how long your provider expects to take, and how much of your time they need to deliver.

2. How do I make changes?

You’re definitely going to want to update your website at some point. Make sure you’ve figured out the process to do this. Can you do it yourself? Or do you need the provider to do it for you? If so, how much is it going to cost? Are you looking at a $200 charge just for fixing a typo?

If you can make changes yourself, how do you do that? Make sure you have this process nailed down. You may not be updating your website very often, so you may forget how to do so in between updates.

This is related to the next question…

3. What kind of support do you offer?

What happens if the website goes down? Who do you call? When are they available? These are questions you really want to get answered long ahead of time. That way, it will be much less stressful if and when something goes wrong. If your website goes down, you want to be able to call someone immediately to get it fixed, rather than spend time trying to figure out who to contact, then wonder when they’ll get back to you.

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4. How secure is my site?

Don’t just ask how secure your site is – it’s very easy to say "oh, it’s very secure." You want to have confidence that your site won’t be hacked. If you don’t quite understand the answers, Google them later on, and ask more questions until you’re satisfied.

5. What's it like to browse my website on a mobile phone or tablet?

This shouldn’t be a question you have to ask – all providers should be making sure your website looks great on any device. But it pays to make sure, because a significant portion of web traffic is from mobile devices, and you want to make sure you’re giving these users the great experience they deserve.

Make sure you look at examples of pharmacy websites they’ve developed before and then dig deeper. Test adding a product to the cart and going through the purchase process on your phone. Is it an easy and intuitive process?

6. Can people find my website on Google?

This is called Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO for short. It’s a critical part of your website. Every business vies for the top spot on Google search results and this should be the same for you for key terms, such as "medicine," "pharmacy" and other relevant words, especially when coupled with your business location.

Being a local business, you already have a location advantage for people searching your business from your community but check the platform your site is built on is optimised for search engines – if Google can’t work out what your site is about, then you won’t be found.

These are just a start. Keep an eye on this blog for a future post, where we’ll dig into the details of selling products online through your website – from getting products on the website, to keeping things updated, to managing the payment process.

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