Growing up, my family had a Saturday night tradition. Pizza for dinner accompanied by episodes of Classic Star Trek. This of course instilled in me a love for sci-fi at an early age that’s never quite left and a pretty healthy interest in new technology. I always get a little excited when I see new practices or bits of tech that seem a little bit futuristic, even if they don’t quite have practical application. And lately, Amazon seems to be on the forefront of these kinds of innovations, starting with the announcement that they were looking into the possibility of delivering orders via flying drone (I honestly thought that was some kind of joke), and their latest piece of futuristic news, that they are looking into a service that will ship your order to you before you even click “add to cart”.
While supposedly this new service should be based on your browsing and purchasing history through Amazon, after pondering it for a while, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably not as much about some complicated algorithm to predict your shopping future, and maybe more Amazon driving the behavior they want to see out of their customers. If that new coffee maker that I’ve been going back and forth on for the last week suddenly shows up at my door, the reality of that shiny new gadget becomes a lot more tempting to buy than the flat image on my computer screen ever was. If this premise becomes reality, it will be the shopping equivalent of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”. Also, Amazon isn’t the only company that’s grasping firmly onto this idea of using technology to drive the behavior they want to see in their customers. IBM predicts that in 5 years, buying local will outstrip online shopping according to this new infographic, due in large part to a heavy integration of technology and software applications.
Obviously Amazon doesn’t quite have their ducks in a row yet because that coffee maker never did show up on my doorstep, and the infrastructure and technological applications to make IBM’s vision of the fully integrated local business a reality, aren’t quite here yet. But the point is that it’s coming, and faster than we might all think.
While you might not be able to fully act on the business you pharmacy will become in 5 years, you can start embracing the underlying theory behind all of this technological innovation and drive the behavior that you want to see in your customers. This may seem like a tall order without resources like those of Amazon and IBM, but there’s one very important place you can start, with a Customer Loyalty Program.
On the surface, loyalty programs can help you attract and retain customers. But a good loyalty
program integrated through your pharmacy POS system can help you do so much more. The way in which you choose to reward your customers can actually help to drive their shopping behavior. Of course building the right program for your store is a major undertaking with a lot to consider. To help you out, we’ve published a new E-book on Customer Loyalty. It’s free to download and contains some great information on getting started with your own program. Just click here to get started.
Whatever happens in the next 1, 5 or 10 years, the retail industry is most certainly standing on the precipice of major change. These new business practices might seem futuristic now, but so did communicators and on-screen video communication during my childhood. Now we use cell phones and video chat via applications like Skype every day. (And personally, I think Captain Kirk would be a little jealous of my smart phone.) If you start working towards driving customer behavior with customer loyalty now, you’ll have a competitive edge when Amazon really can figure out what their shoppers are thinking.
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.