Today’s consumer is complicated. They expect more than ever before, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. And to succeed, I think it probably goes without saying that you have to please an ever more demanding customer base. But how do you do that? It’s not just about good customer service, or convenience or competitive pricing anymore. Certainly, all 3 are factors in how appealing shopping at your pharmacy is to today’s ultra-selective consumer, but there’s more you can do to set you pharmacy apart and ensure long term success.
Successful pharmacies move past a basic transactional relationship with their customers. They offer their customer base more. From disease state management, counseling and classes to promote healthy living, to retail strategies like product placement, loyalty programs and customer-centric promotions.
Part of a successful pharmacy’s strategy should be educating its customers. This is something that’s beneficial for them and for you. It works on a number of levels. Offering education can drive sales on specific products without your customer ever experiencing a sales pitch. It gives your customers a reason to interact outside of regular purchases, and it’s something that large chain stores don’t generally offer. Here are a few ways to get started.
Educate at the register. This may be the most natural way to begin to not only educate your customers, but encourage shopping behavior that’s beneficial to you. It starts with a simple, “Did you find everything you need?”, which allows customers the opportunity to ask about items they didn’t find. Your staff can then show them where to find what they need or talk about alternatives if you don’t carry what the customer is looking for. But it doesn’t end there. “Did you know that there is a private label product that’s the exact same medication as this brand name, but that costs you less?” Teaching customers about private label products will be an ongoing project for you and your staff, but the benefits are too great to ignore. Not only can your customer feel good about shopping at a store that will actively try to save them money, but you will generally make a higher margin on those private label products.
Tip of the day. There are countless ways in which you can provide education to your customers that they can then access at their leisure. Try putting together a tip of the day (or even of the week or month if every day is too much). Offer a simple health related tip via any number of methods. You can put a display by the register, in the window, or on a reader board outside if you have one. Post on Facebook or Twitter, or print a monthly newsletter or even start a blog like this one. Again, this is great for your customers and lets them know that you care about your health, but it can also drive sales if you offer tips like using supplements to strengthen your immune system, or the best OTC medications for the common cold.
Seminars and classes. Offering classes after hours, or in the evening hours when your pharmacy business is slower is a great way to bring in new customers and to offer more to your already loyal customers. Offer education on different supplement options, bring in experts to host smoking cessation classes or CPR training. If there are different facets to your business like a crafting section or a wine department, you can host events centered around those as well. Classes add another layer to your pharmacy and provide more incentives for customers to visit and shop.
Staff Recommendations. Your expertise is invaluable and when you advise, customers will listen. Check out this previous blog post on easy ways to make staff recommendations work for you.
Remember, information is more readily available to your consumers today than ever before. With smart phones in everyone’s pocket, today’s customer is used to having answers at their fingertips. But this drive to obtain information can be to your benefit if you are readily doling out education to your customers. They’ll feel more confident about shopping at your pharmacy which can only be good for your pharmacy’s bottom line.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customer service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market