Competitive pricing is a major player in customer retention. Yet it comes to owning and running a successful independent pharmacy, financial success requires more than simply offering discounted drug prices.
Small pharmacy owners remain relevant in today’s volatile healthcare market by applying several strategies that help boost their pharmacy’s success, allowing them to maintain their standing as viable, community options. Some of these strategies include:
- Cultivating current relationships and building new relationships
- Tailoring their customer experience to the unique communities they serve
- Broadening inventory selections (or trimming them back)
Each of these steps can be accomplished through a combination of retail and marketing strategies.
Nearly 45 percent of patients will ask their doctor if there are alternative options available for the treatment of their diagnosis(es). It is an easy step for pharmacists to take this information and apply it to their advantage: learn about your customers – not just the medications they take and their side effects, but also their lifestyles, home lives, work lives, and anything that can give insight into additional products and services that they may find helpful. Then offer up those products and services to help soften any negative impacts caused by their medications or disease states (1).
This approach can help boost sales, enhance your financial bottom line and, most importantly, instill a sense of comfort in your customers. You’re willing to take that extra step to get to know them and to discuss concerns and offer advice, and they’ll notice. A positive “side-effect” that can be realized from this type of interaction is the increased chances for stronger medication compliance and better outcomes for your customers.
Customer and Community Experience
An independent pharmacy has the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of their community. Everyone gets sick, and most everyone has the occasion to visit the pharmacy. This provides a neighborhood pharmacist with a unique look into the demographic makeup of a community – what makes their customer base tick? What drives them? What are they dealing with as a community – a run of the flu? Poor air quality due to forest fires? An unusually bad tick season?
By beginning conversations with customers, independent pharmacies can get a mountain of workable information.
For example, is your community is being hit hard by the flu? Stock up on spring water, hydrating, low-sugar sports drinks, and – if it fits with inventory – soups and broths (2). These items are easy to have on hand and someone who is rushing to get home to a sick loved one is more likely to purchase everything in one stop (your pharmacy) than to make several.
Independent pharmacies can become the go-to destination for their communities just by paying attention or striking up a conversation. It’s a win for the pharmacy and the customer.
Revisiting our flu scenario, it’s easy to illustrate where expanding on inventory selections can go a long way in building an independent pharmacy’s business in the community.
Larger box pharmacies offer not only prescriptions and medicinal aids, but also a small selection of conveniences – milk and cream, aluminum foil and paper goods, and a small selection of essential food items. If this is possible for your pharmacy, it’s a great way to make yourself more appealing to the customer who wants to get everything done in one stop.
This idea can be further built on by adding items such as magazines, paperback books, and puzzle books for those long hours resting in bed.
Combining retail and marketing strategies is an effective way to highlight the services an independent pharmacy offers its local community. Competitive prices are only one step. Check out some of these statistics for why shoppers prefer to shop at small and local retailers. (More than one reason allowed) (3):
- 61% They offer unique product
- 49% I couldn’t find what I needed from traditional sources
- 40% I want to support the community or small businesses
- 29% I like to try new retailers
- 26% They feature a broader assortment
- 24% They provide innovative shopping experience
Does your pharmacy currently employ any of these marketing strategies? Which strategies do you utilize and how have they impacted – positively or negatively – your community relationships or your pharmacy inventory? We’d love to know and may even share those experiences in future blog posts. If you’d like to add your experience, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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