Have you ever been reading an article online and had an ad or news story start to auto-play when you weren’t expecting it? Most all of us have had this happen. For me, it always seems to occur when I’ve got my volume turned up and my office door wide open. It’s pushy, it’s irritating, and for me it almost always results in the window being immediately closed while I go look for my information elsewhere.
Of course, advertising or actively selling, is necessary in one form or another, but there’s a fine line between selling and pushing. For pharmacies, it goes a bit further because what you’re selling benefits the customer in a completely different way than most other retail verticals. You’re in a unique situation that allows you to provide a needed service and increase profitability at the same time. Instead of driving customer behavior with sales tactics, you can drive it by teaching and informing.
Counseling and teaching your customers may be second nature to some pharmacy staff, but for others, it may be a little more difficult, or completely outside of their comfort zone. A more inexperienced staff member can easily cross over into the land of “pushy” without meaning to. That’s where point-of-sale based tools come into play. Here are a few things that will drive customer behavior in the direction you want without the risk of seeming pushy or overbearing.
Increase Patient Adherence: Making sure that customers follow guidelines and take prescribed medications as instructed has become a driving force for many pharmacies, both outpatient and retail. The first step towards helping pharmacies improve patient outcomes came with our EvolutionPOS handheld register, allowing hospital outpatient pharmacies to deliver prescriptions to patients prior to discharge. We’ve continued that commitment with EvolutionPOS V2, offering even more functionality in an updated tablet form-factor. While this technology can certainly be helpful for traditional retail pharmacies, it didn’t offer the same boost to increasing patient adherence. That’s one of the reasons we were (and still are) so excited to offer an interface to Ortho Molecular Products’ Digital Replete program. This interface identifies supplements that are recommended based upon the prescriptions being sold. It allows you to easily make product recommendations for the purpose of helping your customer feel better. The increase in sales is just a nice side effect.
Pairing Products: Some products just naturally go together. Cold medicine and tissues or Band-Aids and disinfectant. It generally make sense that if a customer needs one that they likely need the other (or will soon). Pairing products together in a promotion or basket is a great way to drive customer behavior without ever really actively selling. Use your point-of-sale system to identify top selling products and group them together, or just group products based on your expertise. Some quick signage to advertise the promotion and you’re done.
Coupons: Believe it or not, coupons can be used as an educational tool. As part of the RMS Customer Loyalty Program, you can set a coupon to print when a specific item is purchased. How is this educational for your customer? If a customer purchases a brand name OTC and you print a coupon for the corresponding private label product it’s a win-win. The customer learns about a product that can save them money and you boost sales of higher margin private label products. You’re definitely pushing customers to shop specific products but they won’t register it as anything but a great discount on their next purchase.
Boosting sales and being on your customer’s side doesn’t have to be conflicting ideas. Happier, more educated customers that understand all the options available to them will likely spend more in your pharmacy. And that’s good for you and for them.