You cannot be a business today without a digital presence. And that even goes for more traditional businesses like pharmacies.
With the right online setup, it can massively expand a business’s customer base and elevate your earnings from the existing customer base.
Each year, ecommerce sales are rising – especially during the last two years under the pandemic when online shopping accelerated. If you’re not prioritizing digital commerce, you’re losing out on so much potential.
But if you’re a pharmacy, what are the key ingredients for the right digital formular?
Pharmacy ecommerce is all about extending your pharmacy counter to the digital universe, which is populated with plenty of shoppers already researching and looking for specific products form prescription drugs to vitamin tablets.
A digital pharmacy doesn’t only market itself online but also sells its products online, too. And this means setting up a whole store with products, postage, booking services, and subscription services.
Step one: find the right platform
There is a huge landscape of ecommerce platforms to choose from and they cater towards certain needs over others. This makes it broadly diverse in their offerings but it can make it difficult to choose from if you’re only just beginning your search for an ecommerce platform.
It would be useful to consider the content management system that you are starting with because some CMS platforms will integrate more easily with certain ecommerce platforms. For example, WooCommerce is the natural ecommerce fit for WordPress users, given that it’s the in-house ecommerce platform.
WooCommerce is also quite simple, which makes it easier to navigate and manage yet at the same time means that it lacks a lot of the sophisticated capabilities and functionality that other platforms offer.
While we cannot tell you which ecommerce platform to use without speaking with you and working it out, fortunately, we have already analyzed the ecommerce platforms that pharmacies use.
When it comes to the main pharmacies in the US, the three ecommerce platforms used are Magento, Oracle Commerce, and BigCommerce. The caveat, however, is that 4 of the big 7 use custom-built ecommerce platforms.
And that makes sense, given that pharmacies have a thick stack of idiosyncratic requirements that traditional ecommerce platforms don’t yet cater for – since non-pharmacies don’t need them. Think of prescriptions. Or consumer products that insurance firms may pay for. Or strict regulatory controls about what can be sold to whom and where.
All of this adds plenty of complexities that you would have to stretch a good and decent ecommerce platform.
Step two: customize!
Once you’ve settled on your ecommerce platform, it’s vital to build in personalization functionality to cater towards specific types of customers. This is important for your shoppers to navigate through your website.
Think about your physical pharmacy. When a customer comes into the store, they may bring their subscription to the counter and, immediately, the worker will take it and – with a smile – straight away head towards the shelves and pick out the subscription.
The customer doesn’t enter the store and wonder around searching for what they need without any help. But this is what happens through a poor user experience on a website that offers no prompts for customer needs or no personalized features that make it easier for customers to find what they need.
Customization also benefits the level of efficiency of a pharmacy business. From the business side of things, it prevents issues when it comes to administrative workload. And with the right site design, it allows for a higher level of automation that takes care of a lot of the monotonous work.
Today, pharmacies bring with them many different models and points of focus. And incorporating these individual traits into a company’s digital form is vital to build out the brand.
Step three: site design
Next is the presentation layer. The look and feel of your brand’s digital presence. If the ecommerce platform provides the framework, and the customization provides the muscles, then the design is what’s visible.
The gold standards to aim for are interactivity and responsiveness. These aspects include the look and feel, the usability of the site, and the graphics quality.
If users enter your site and sense that it’s out of date, like it’s not been updated in a few years, it’s going to eat into your perceived trustworthiness and credibility. Users will simply surf over to a competitor with a better design layout – even if you offer superior products or a wider variety of products.
Step four: intuitive navigation
The primary reason that we buy online is convenience. And that means the layout of your digital pharmacy is important to get right. Make it as easy as possible for users to find products, keep updated with subscriptions, recommending appropriate products, etc.