Independent pharmacies seem to have it rough these days. They’ve been around for so long, and they’ve been loyal to their own small communities, even when a few national pharmacy chains (which shall not be named, just out of spite) popped up and unfairly stole a few customers who swore they would remain loyal too. Now there are these “online pharmacy” monsters (which seem doomed from the start, to be honest) and hundreds of urgent care centers that seem like a doctor’s office/ hospital hybrid, except that some also dispense prescriptions.
If ever there was a time requiring independent pharmacies to beef up their services, that time is right now.
- Organize inventory. The key to mastering the inventory of a store is to predict what customers want before they even know that they want it. Pharmacies have the benefit of relying on seasonal and geographic factors to determine which products will be in demand, but small pharmacies are a bit limited nevertheless. Fail to order enough varieties, and customers will go elsewhere. Order way too many items, and they’ll have to be discounted in order to sell — which could actually end up hurting the store, especially if money is already tight.
- Minimize. No, this isn’t said with sarcasm, even though a small pharmacy is probably in a building that’s as minimal as it gets. But this can mean anything from buying new shelving that takes up less space, or paying close attention to the items that aren’t in highest demand (and taking them out for good). Customers want convenience, and the faster they can get in a store, find what they need, and get right out is going to be a selling point for any independent pharmacy.
- Customer loyalty benefits. These don’t have to be as extensive as what a nationwide store would offer, but sometimes something simple like a punch card or extra coupons is enough to bring customers in, and to keep them coming back. It’s common that smaller pharmacies have trouble offering the same low prices as chain stores, but a loyalty program ensures that when discounts are given, they’ll actually return results for the pharmacy, too.
If it takes a bit of experimenting to find the right balance — that’s completely okay. Figuring out an inventory management strategy that will have long-term benefits is the most important thing (closely followed by a willingness to be flexible and adjust to consumer demands).
This might seem like a lot to manage, but there’s actually one small secret that many independent pharmacy owners have already begin using: retail pharmacy POS systems. A POS system (point of sale) designed specifically with independent pharmacies in mind is capable of handling all these tasks (or at least, helping the pharmacy manager handle these tasks).
Newer POS systems come with exceptional software and encryption-enhanced security features, including analyses of sales trends in real time and inventory tracking, and some systems are even able to help with prescription-related tasks (like transaction records and discount cards).
There may be a lot of improvements to accomplish, but one simple software addition can make all these tasks seem like a piece of cake. Find more on this topic here.