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how to setup a successful pharmacy ecommerce website
A successful eCommerce website massively expands your customer base and increases spend from your existing customer base. How? By putting you in front of their faces when they’re ready to buy.

Online sales rise continually year on year, but if you don’t have a pharmacy eCommerce website, you won’t see a penny of it.

ecommerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales

The components of a successful Pharmacy eCommerce Website

This article is a recipe for sweet success when it comes to eCommerce. But what are the key ingredients you need for the delicious end result?

  • Information-rich product pages/descriptions
  • Simple (and secure!) checkout process
  • A good eCommerce platform
  • Customised design for your specific business
  • Intuitive and convenient categorisation & navigation around the online shop
  • A mobile-responsive version of the site.
  • SEO

Before we start putting the pieces together for a successful site, let’s first take a step back and look at the big picture. (That’s what my mum always told me to do with jigsaws.)

How Pharmacy eCommerce works

Pharmacy eCommerce is about taking your pharmacy business online. Not just the marketing, but the actual sales themselves. We’re not talking about just booking services anymore, but setting up a full online store with products, payments, and postage.

For your customers, this means they can buy from you without ever leaving their homes. Super convenient.

For you, this means expanding your business beyond the previous geographical limits. Check the case study below for an example of what success looks like with a pharmacy eCommerce website!

The present and future of eCommerce

In 5 years’ time, you’ll wear a pair of glasses that connect to your temples. When you think about something you need, the glasses bring up an option to order it straight away from the most relevant supplier.

Ok, I made that up. But only to prove a point. Because that’s essentially how Google works already. And increasingly, how audio works. Let me explain. If you already know how Google and smart devices work, skip the next two headings.

eCommerce on Home Voice Devices

This is how easy ordering products online with smart household devices is.

  1. Start an order, say something like “Ok Google, buy Ibuprofen.”
  2. Google reads off the top search results and asks for confirmation.
  3. Say “Yes” to order, or “No” to get the next search result.
Smart Home Devices can be used for shopping online

Smart Home Devices are increasingly used across modern households.

Depending on your device, you can also specify a preference for a specific company. Simply say “Buy Ibuprofen from JP Pharmacy” to only get results from your favourite shop. Already bought an item? You can say “reorder Ibuprofen” to place the same order again, which should default to the same place you bought it from.

Recognising convenience as the biggest strength of eCommerce, you see how this process could be used to capture and lock down repeat business.

Pharmacy eCommerce websites on Google

We’ve talked many times about how when people need something and they don’t know where to get it, Google is where they go. And so ranking highly on Google is critical to any eCommerce strategy. I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you want to understand why ranking on Google is so important to your strategy, read this pharmacy guide to winning Google.
The additional element you need for eCommerce is optimising those product pages. Pertinent information and relevant product descriptions helps Google index your site, as well as giving a great shopping experience. The combination of those two means you’ll rank well on Google and will reap the profits as a result.

Creating a successful Pharmacy eCommerce website

Now we understand how they work, it’s time to follow our recipe for creating that successful Pharmacy eCommerce website.

Firstly, select the right platform

We use WooCommerce, because of its seamless integration into WordPress sites. What this means is the complete functionality of WordPress with your shop.

Why is that good?

Glad you asked. Just for absolute clarity – an eCommerce platform is not the same as a website. So, using WooCommerce (eCommerce platform) because it works well with WordPress, means you can create an entire website with eCommerce, rather than just one or the other.

Next, Customise your Website

This is important for your shoppers and your pharmacy business too. Once we’ve got our platform, it’s time to think about how it appears online. Customising its appearance and structure makes a massive difference.

For happy customers

Your online shop should be as distinguished an experience as shopping in your pharmacy. That’s not to say it’s the same level of experience. But just as you’d hope to give someone a better experience than your competition, you should strive to deliver a better experience than your competition.

For an efficient pharmacy business

Customising your website for the way you work is another cornerstone for success. Because the website is only the front of the business, like a physical pharmacy building. It still requires work behind the scenes to deliver on the orders.  Understanding how you operate and incorporating that into the website is critical.

On the customer side, it ensures excellent service. From your side, it prevents administrative workload issues. Further than that, the right website design brings a level of automation that improves the profitability of your overall business.

There are also different models and focuses of pharmacies now. Customising a website with these focuses in mind is important. The difference between success and irrelevance can be fine margins. The devil is often in the details.

See that in action as we build an eCommerce solution for an Aesthetics pharmacy in the case study below.

Website Design

Now it’s time to think about presentation. The eCommerce platform was the skeleton, your customised website is the muscles, now it’s time to put the skin on and make the whole thing look pretty.

Interactive and responsive design, including contemporary look-and-feel, good usability and high-quality graphics is the pinnacle.

If people don’t feel like your website is up-to-date, it won’t inspire confidence that your products or services are. I’ve seen websites look so dated, I didn’t buy from them in case it was a business that didn’t even trade anymore. I wouldn’t want my money going somewhere unless I’m sure I’m going to get the product.

Cultivating the intuitive navigation and layout

Presumably you put thought into the layout of your pharmacy. Where products go, what signs you use for different sections, like Prescriptions, Skincare etc. More recently you’ve implemented one-way systems and social distancing stickers on the floors.

This all needs doing for your online shop. Don’t forget the number one reason people are shopping online in the first place – convenience. Making your website as easy as possible to find both the products that people are visiting specifically to buy, as well as recommending similar or alternative products mirrors the journey they’d experience in your pharmacy.

Creating a product ecosystem with integrated SEO

Product ecosystems are simply products that interlink with each other in some way. Think Apple’s iPhone, Airpods, and Apple Watches. If you have one, chances are you’ll want the others.
Product ecosystems help both the buying journey and the Google ranking, so it’s a must for any pharmacy eCommerce website. Linking optimised content with relevant, optimised product pages sounds technical, but it’s really simple in concept.

All it means, translated into simple terms, is that you’re combining the information and advice with your product, as well as linking relevant products. Buying throat numbing spray? You might also be interested in Vapour Rub, Lemsip, and Lozenges.

Including a “How-to-use” guide (or similar) with your product not only helps people to find you on Google, but also instills confidence in the purchase at the moment of decision-making.

Having the relevant information on your product pages boosts your Google rankings too, the same way blog articles and other web pages rank higher with well-organised and relevant information.

Safe & Simple Checkout Process

Picture it.

You pop into the supermarket and pick up a carton of juice for the morning. You get to the checkouts and it’s like Christmas Eve, every checkout has at least three packed trolleys. Do you wait half an hour to buy that juice? Of course you don’t. Because you don’t have the time.

So you leave. You head to a corner shop and pick up juice there. The woman behind the counter says they only accept credit cards. She pulls out a machine that doesn’t look anything like a normal card machine. She says she’ll need to take a photo of your card for security and your signature. Again, you put down the juice and say it’s ok, you’ll go somewhere else.

These are parallels by people’s experiences when giving up online. Even if the website was modern enough to attract the customer and simple enough for them to quickly find what they needed. If the checkout process isn’t simple and secure, you lose customers.

Bear this in mind when selecting an online payment gateway for your pharmacy.

Mobile-responsiveness is now Mobile-First

Once upon a time, optimising for mobile might have been the icing on the cake. Now it’s the self-raising flour. Without it, your website will fall flat. Google recently changed its algorithm, which is the system it uses to analyse and rank websites. Now, your site is judged on the experience it gives to mobile users. This is MASSIVE.

“If it’s your intention that the mobile version has less content than the desktop version, your site may lose some traffic when Google enables mobile-first indexing for your site, since Google won’t be able to get the full information anymore.” – developers.google.com

Why this is important is that you could previously heap tonnes of information onto the desktop version of your site, be judged on that, whilst your stripped-back, simplified mobile version would cruise off the success of your desktop site.

Now, that isn’t the case. This makes it slightly more difficult to strike the balance between informative content and sleek design. You want the information there, but you want to avoid the dreaded “wall of text” that puts off so many users from websites.

Necessary, but desirable

Whilst the Google update now makes Mobile-Friendly websites imperative, the number of mobile users shopping online should be the real incentive.

That one word again. Convenience. If there’s one thing you take away from this article, make it that convenience rules supreme online.

Of course, there is another way…

Just like a recipe, you can take this, and use it to create your own dish. (Though you’d need the technical know-how on top.)

Or, if you’d prefer, the Pharmacy Mentor MasterChefs can whip up a mouth-watering eCommerce solution for your pharmacy. We work with you, understand exactly what it is you need, and produce it. Just like we’ve done countless times for other community pharmacies.

Online Payment Gateways for Pharmacy

 

The Kings of Convenience, Amazon, are here to make things easier for your customers. You need to be just as convenient if you want to keep hold of them.

 


This article is updated periodically to reflect changes in both the online payments and pharmacy industries.


Accepting Online Payments for Your Pharmacy

If COVID-19 didn’t stress the importance of online payment gateways for your pharmacy, Amazon’s recent inroads into the pharmacy world should.

Recently we talked about the importance of a website that works for you. Being able to accept payments is one of the key elements of a brilliant pharmacy website.

I tell people all the time that they aren’t competing with other pharmacies, but the general expectation of the public to what they should be able to do online now. Is it really too much to ask that someone can book and pay for a service online from you?

Well, now you are competing against other pharmacies. Amazon Pharmacy isn’t just out for you, but for everyone. Everyone will be stepping their digital game up.

The Digital Wave

This isn’t the beginning of the digital wave. The wave has been swelling for a long time. But it’s only just now reaching Community Pharmacy. If you haven’t bought into the idea yet that things are going to change dramatically in pharmacy, then soon it will be too late to surf the wave. Soon the wave will be crashing down on you and pulling you under.

Fortunately, a lot of pharmacies are now taking action. Also, with the evolution of digital health and mobile technology, and the ability to provide a vast array of private services, there are so many more reasons why taking payments online is a fantastic thing to do for your patients. We’ve had a lot of questions recently about online payments for pharmacy. Which one is the best? The cheapest? Which one has the best customer service?

We’ve learned a few things over the last year about pharmacy payment gateways. For example, Stripe, a brilliant online payment gateway that we use for our own business, does not generally accept pharmacies as customers.

So we decided to write this article to give you an idea of the options available to you.

Here are the Top Online Payment Gateways for Pharmacy in the UK

opayo logo

Opayo – A new name, but one you can trust – Our Recommended Solution and our Partner

Opayo, formerly SagePay (a massive name in online payments) is an incredibly reliable online payment solution for pharmacies. The name change has come about because of a takeover by Elavon a Subsidiary of U.S. Bank, which adds extra weight behind an already robustly reliable and secure platform. They offer an entirely scalable suite of payment options to suit your needs, including card machines for your physical location as well as their online offering. Opayo offers all the same integrations with website platforms as PayPal, which is a massive plus.

All your data in one place.

Collecting and understanding data from your existing customers is critical in getting them back into your pharmacy and spending more money. We wrote an article about Data Collection for Pharmacies and its value for pharmacy owners. Opayo’s Cloud Connect solution generates helpful data from your payments, allowing integration of orders, payments, and returns into your online data system to offer personalised product recommendations.

The fact that Opayo offers both in-store and online payment solutions means your data collection doesn’t miss anything. If people are paying by card, you’re collecting valuable information on customer activity. With real-time reports, understand what sells best, when you’re busiest, and who the bestsellers in your team are.

Convenience encouraging returning customers

Using a secure method called tokenisation, customers’ cards can be held securely on your system without you risking being hacked and having their details. This means when customers return to your site (to re-order a repeat item for instance), their checkout journey is a lot quicker. You know yourself, a quick checkout process is exactly what you want. That’s why Amazon’s “Buy with One Click” functionality exists.

Pricing

Pricing is helpfully not measured in % of a transaction, making comparison guides that much easier to write. Starting at the basic package, you pay £25/month for 350 transactions/month, workingwhich works out as 7p per transaction. volume discounts aren’t disclosed on their website. If you like mysteries, that’s great, but less so if you want to plan things meticulously. We recommend understanding futures rates before signing up with any provider.   makes our top online payment gateways for pharmacy in 2021. 

  • Transaction Fees: 7p/transaction on the basic package,  
  • Monthly Fees: None Disclosed.
  • Set-Up: None disclosed.

Get Opayo Payment Solutions for your Pharmacy

 

 

Paypal online payment gateway for Pharmacy

 

PayPal – Trusted Name, Transparent Fees

PayPal is probably the easiest payment gateway to add to any website. It’s also one of the most trusted names in online payments, which gives people convenience and confidence – two crucial factors when you’re looking to defend against convenience on an Amazonian scale.

PayPal is everything you’d want from a modern payment services provider: transparent, affordable and flexible even for the smallest of businesses.

It’s optimised for mobile and major eCommerce CMSs such as WooCommerce (WordPress), Magento, Wix, BigCommerce and Shopify – not something all gateways can claim.

 

 

Pricing

PayPal’s pricing is also completely transparent. Their comprehensive list of merchant fees means you know exactly what you’ll be charged for depending on the kinds of transactions you’re accepting. There’s a high chance you only need to look at the Domestic Card Payment rates if you’re a UK-based pharmacy.

The ideal PayPal customer is going to be a small business with a relatively high volume of card transactions every month – some pharmacies definitely fall into that bracket. 2.75% transaction fees for UK-based companies are pretty steep by anyone’s measure. However, that rate decreases the greater the volume of sales you make is. If you can turn over £15k sales every month, it’s highly affordable at 1.0%.

Remember, having more than one gateway on your site gives people more options and flexibility with paying you. Including PayPal alongside another solution is sometimes a better solution for your customers. Ultimately, that’s the game here – making it easy for people to give you their money.

On the downside, PayPal business customers are known to complain about funds not being released for lengthy periods and getting a resolution can take too long in the case of customer disputes. This is often just whilst PayPal verifies you as a trusted seller, but it can still be a pain if your cashflow is tight. On a similar note, its customer support team is generally quick to respond but often slow to resolve issues.

  • Transaction Fees: 1.9%-3.4% + 20p per transaction
  • Chargeback Fees: £14
  • Monthly Fees: £20 per month (Web Payments Pro)
  • Set-Up: No Fee

Click here to sign up to PayPal

 

Pharmacy Mentor are Partnered with PayPal, so if you want to get in touch to see if we can get you a better deal, please contact us and we will refer you to them.

 

Zion Payments – A new breed of Payment company

Zion Payments are a modern day company. You can tell immediately from the way they present themselves that they’re the type of company that was founded because they looked at all the existing companies and thought…we can do better.


This article is updated periodically to reflect changes in both the online payments and pharmacy industries.


As companies automate more and more, they forget customer service shouldn’t be automated. Zion Payments challenge on the basis that simply by delivering excellent customer service, they’ll take a decent chunk of market share with the people that value good customer service.

One-Click Purchases

I mentioned whilst talking Opayo that Amazon’s One-Click option exists, and it makes it INCREDIBLY easy to buy from them. Long-term readers of mine know I preach about making it easy for people to give you their money. Zion Payments offering this One-Click Purchase is only a small feature, but it makes such a big difference.

It also shows that they understand how the modern consumer’s mind works. Not a bad trait for a company you’re partnering up with.

  • Transaction Fees: We’re currently enquiring about the full breakdown of transaction fees.
  • Monthly Fees: Subscription models are available.

Let’s explore Zion Payments

So which is the best online payment gateway for your pharmacy?

The best online payment gateway providers for pharmacies in the UK enable you to take card details online and they’re all highly capable options. In reality, the best choice for your business is going to come down to additional factors, such as the other payment services you need from a provider and the transaction fees you can expect to pay. It also depends on what you prefer more, lower fees, or better customer service.

PayPal, Opayo, and Zion give you a varied selection to consider initially. Then it comes down to flexibility vs simplicity. 


Have you been using a particular payment system for your online pharmacy sales and transactions? Finding a solution useful or poor? We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking for help in selecting the right online payment gateway for your pharmacy, please get in touch with us. We’ll be glad to help.