For some reason, I still get an updated yellow pages phone book deposited in my driveway every 6 months or so. And every 6 months I bring it inside, deposit it on my kitchen table for some unknown reason and then stare at it for a few days until I realize I have absolutely no use for a hard copy phone book and walk it back outside to be deposited in my recycling bin. I do remember a time when that stack of yellow and white pages was a necessity. It was our lifeline to electricians and plumbers, pizza and Chinese food delivery and pretty much every other business we might have a need to contact and learn about.
Today, most of us approach things differently. My first stop when I’m looking for a business or service is the internet. What the internet is saying, or not saying about your pharmacy can have a huge impact on how much new business is driven to your store. And while the strength of your online presence depends on many different factors (customer reviews, social media, etc.) one of the most important things you can have is an informative, easy to navigate website.
I was reminded of this fact early last week when I found myself in need of a new oven. I have bought every major appliance in my home from the same local retailer. They are friendly, knowledgeable and their delivery staff always go above and beyond for me. My oven had decided to practically set itself on fire late on Sunday night, so on Monday, I was planning to go after work and pick out a new one. I just needed to make sure I gave myself enough time before they closed, so during lunch, I went to their website to find their hours. It should have been a 30 second diversion. Type the business name into Google Search, click on their website, and find their hours, which should be posted plain as day on their home page. But they weren’t there. Neither where they in the contact us tab, the about us tab or anywhere else to be found. I was irritated to say the least. I was even more irritated when their contact us page was so confusing that I couldn’t easily determine which phone number belonged to which of their 2 locations. I was almost irritated enough to throw up my hands and go somewhere else to make my purchase.
Luckily for this specific store, my overall experience with them has been so positive that it outweighed my annoyance, and I took the extra time to call and ask how late they were open that night. But believe it or not, many potential customers won’t go that far and will simply go to the store that they know is open until 9pm or even 24 hours a day. And since losing business to the box stores is the last thing we want to do, spending the time and expense to put together an effective website is really putting money towards the success of your pharmacy.
Websites should always be a work in progress, evolving and changing with your business. But if you are just getting started, here are a few things that you should take into account for your pharmacy’s web site.
1) Put contact information, location and store hours on your home page where they are easy to locate without an extensive search. Often times this is all people are looking for when they visit your website so have it in plain sight.
2) Make sure your home page is clean but informative. It should say something about who you are as a business, what you believe in, what your primary business mission is, etc. For example, when you visit www.rm-solutions.com, one of the first things you see is are the words “The Leader in in Pharmacy Point-of-Sale Innovation”. You don’t want to leave who you are as a company up to guess work or require website visitors to go digging around.
3) Have an “About Us” section to your site. Give people a chance to get to know your business and your people if they want to. Many independent pharmacies have a rich history that potential customers will enjoy learning about. And if your business is relatively new, it’s still helpful for people to feel that they can get to know you and your staff.
4) Check out what your website looks when accessed from a mobile device. Web traffic via cell phone and tablet is only increasing. Make sure that if people go to your website from a mobile device, they will still be able to easily view pertinent information.
5) Google your store. If your website doesn’t pop up when you enter your store name into a Google search, you have a problem. Of course if you have a more common or generic pharmacy name, you might want to throw your city and state into the search as well but since not everyone will know your website off the top of their head, you need to make sure that something about your store does come up when customers go searching online.
As the phone book gets ever skinnier each time it’s delivered to me, the power and influence of the internet continues to grow. Make sure you don’t get left behind.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customers 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.