50% of all local search ends with a visit within 24 hours. (Source: Uberall, 2019)
All of those are applicable to Community Pharmacies. But the “Near Me” searches are where NearSt shines, and where the main benefit for you as a local business comes in.
How does NearSt help Pharmacies?
NearSt solves your community’s problem of needing something immediately but not knowing where it’s in stock. NearSt (hence the name) lets them know where the product is being stocked near them whenever (and wherever) they search for it online.
Anything that solves your customers and patients problems, is an asset for your business.
Turning online shoppers into in-store customers
People shop online for convenience. But waiting even a day for a product isn’t convenient compared with collecting it that same day from a local shop. With healthcare products, it’s even more likely your customers want things immediately.
A real-time view of what local shoppers want
Sir Lord Major General Alan Sugar has a phrase he rolls out every series on The Apprentice – “smell what sells.”
NearSt gives digestible insights into what nearby customers want to make sure your pharmacy is always stocking the right products, by providing real-time information about what shoppers near your pharmacy are searching for.
By stocking the things your community is searching for, and showing up when they search for it, you’re putting yourself in a winning formula which equals sales.
How does NearSt work?
NearSt integrates with your EPOS system and puts your live in-store stock onto Google, as well as product descriptions, price, and images. It’s constantly talking to your EPOS system which means the information online is always up-to-date.
The difference between NearSt and Pointy by Google
Those of you with Pointy might be thinking, I already have that! Well, yes, but not quite. Understanding the difference between Pointy & NearSt took me a while too, but there are critical differences.
The main differences between Pointy by Google and NearSt are:
Pointy is hardware, NearSt is software. Instead of having to manually scan your entire product range, it’s uploaded automatically, saving you loads of time.
Pointy is owned by Google, therefore only works with Google search engines. NearSt works with every search engine, including Facebook.
Because it’s linked with your EPOS system, NearSt has LIVE information about your stock levels, meaning people aren’t making the journey into your store then getting dissapointedd when you have no stock.
What if I’ve got an eCommerce website?
An eCommerce website is a great solution for declining footfall and the increase in online shopping activity. However, it may not solve the problem for patients and customers who need a product right now i.e. on the day and not delivered in 2 days, for example.
Using NearSt, even if you’re an eCommerce brand, you’re offering your patients and customers even more convenience by giving them an immediate solution as well as an online one, where they can go and get the product in store.
In just 4 weeks, Massingham’s products were discovered over 152,000 times in Google by nearby shoppers, driving 157 new customers in-store. One was noted as saying, “we didn’t know you existed, what a lovely shop!”
“It’s been great for us. It’s been useful to give people the opportunity to see what we have available in the shop. Our regular customers also use NearSt to check that we have a product in stock that they already know they want.”
– Nick, Clare Pharmacy
Whilst NearSt don’t operate purely with Community Pharmacies, their existing cases show it works. Knowing what I do about most Community Pharmacies’ desire to increase the retail sales, this for me seemed like an obvious solution.
And there’s no massive commitment, either. Pay monthly just like you would a Netflix account.
Pharmacy EPOS Systems have undergone something of a switch from analogue to digital in recent years. This guide takes you through the options that now exist for community pharmacies looking to upgrade their system.
What is an EPOS system and why is it important for your Pharmacy?
Pharmacy EPOS systems help pharmacies accept payments electronically. Most EPOS systems enable tracking available inventory, managing customers, and confirming or approving purchase orders. EPOS stands for electronic point-of-sale, and can range from a basic card reading terminal to a complete stock-management system for your entire pharmacy business.
There are many EPOS providers across the UK, but not all EPOS systems are suitable for pharmacies. The providers featured in this article are some of the top EPOS providers with specialist solutions for pharmacies in the UK.
If you already know about EPOS systems and what you’re looking for, you can skip straight to some of the top EPOS systems in the UK to compare providers.
There are two types of EPOS systems, on-premise & cloud-based.
On-premise EPOS Systems
On-premise EPOS solutions store all your data (which populates your system and allows it to function) on a physical storage device on your premises. Click through the slides below for the Pros & Cons of On-premise EPOS solutions.
Cloud-based EPOS solutions store all your data (which populates your system and allows it to function) on a remote server. Your EPOS accesses the data via the internet. Again, for the pros & cons of cloud-based solutions, simply click through the slider below.
Points of Sale were once just cash registers, with each transaction manually typed in. Modern points of sale are now usually computers or tablets which run EPOS software. They come with product information, prices, and stock levels all pre-loaded. There are also add-ons to the core unit which are also EPOS hardware you’d need to invest in. Card readers, cash drawers, printers & barcode scanners are examples of extra hardware you’d want alongside your main POS. If you’re still struggling to picture an EPOS, a self-checkout at a Supermarket is a classic example of an EPOS.
EPOS software runs off a browser or app installed onto your EPOS hardware. And it’s likely to be the biggest differentiator when it comes to deciding between providers. Whilst hypothetically, you could build a completely bespoke EPOS software that matches 100% of your pharmacy needs, the significant extra cost of doing this may likely not be worth it when an off-the-shelf solution does 90% of what you need from it at a substantially lower price.
Understanding What You Need from a Pharmacy EPOS System Before You Make A Decision
Getting the right EPOS system for your pharmacy business is an important decision. The right solution can save you a lot of time and money. The wrong system for your business can leave you with headaches of hidden costs, and frustrations for your pharmacy team when using the system.
Features you need Vs. Features you don’t
For instance, as a pharmacy, you don’t need a feature incorporating tips into the payment process (that would really be something for pharmacists, hey?). Instead, features that automatically update product information from all the major wholesale suppliers through various databases like C+D.
On-premise solutions not relying on an internet connection to function, for instance, is only one “pro” of an on-premise solution, but for most pharmacies with unreliable N3 Broadband connections, this is a huge benefit.
Multiples Vs. Single Pharmacy
Additionally, if a system is incredible for streamlining multiple kiosks or locations onto one system, and you run a small community pharmacy with only one point of sale, you wouldn’t pay for all that functionality when you won’t benefit from it.
Whilst you might not find one single system that fits your pharmacy business like a glove, it’s still important to find the best fit.
What hardware will I need as a pharmacy?
The core hardware that 99% of pharmacies will need are as follows:
A fixed desktop EPOS computer.
A card reader – especially one with contactless options
A cash drawer
What I’d add to this list, from a marketing agency perspective, is that you’ll massively benefit from a desktop EPOS that has a customer-facing touchscreen. The reason I’d do this personally, is because I would see this as a massive opportunity to increase customer retention. If you can work into your checkout process an option to have their receipts either texted or emailed to them, this then means that you can get their number or email onto your database.
If they opt-in to marketing communications with you (incentivise this with retail offers), you now have a direct line to communicate with that person. Even if only 1 out of 10 people leaves their details with you, if you have 100 people coming through your pharmacy every day, your marketing list is growing by 10 people every day.
Should I get an on-premises EPOS system or a cloud-based one?
Whilst there are different factors to consider for your individual pharmacy business, most community pharmacies will find cloud-based EPOS systems are the right solution for them. The reason for this is that most innovations and advances in EPOS technology (most of which are BIG time-savers) are enabled by cloud technology.
Should I get a fixed desktop checkout or a flexible tablet/mobile-based checkout?
A fixed desktop checkout is best for pharmacies with a clear focal point to the shop floor. Whereas a mobile checkout allows team members to engage patients and customers anywhere in the store and go through a checkout process with them (think Apple Store).
For 99% of pharmacies at this moment, the traditional desktop kiosk makes sense.
But for pharmacies adopting a more contemporary, clinical model, with a pharmacy layout to suit, a more flexible checkout process could help underpin the new approach. At the very least, a self-checkout process for GSL & other non-pharmaceutical items would assist in cutting waiting times, and therefore improving patient experiences for the people who need to speak to a pharmacist.
It might be that, with all things in life, the sweet spot is the balance between the two. Especially if you’re wanting to balance a large prescription business with a clinical model. It is perfectly possible to combine both desktop POS with mobile POS devices, but naturally, this would be more expensive.
What are the key benefits of a Pharmacy EPOS system?
You’ll find most of these benefits are standard with the providers listed below. These are pretty benefits from having a modern pharmacy EPOS system, rather than unique selling points for any single provider.
The standard benefit of Electronic payments is obvious. In a digital world, people visiting your pharmacy expect they can pay with their card or phone.
Many features of EPOS systems save time, either via removing the need for manual entry or automating stock-reordering
Pharmacy Multiples benefit hugely from the administration of all their pharmacies being managed from one location.
Pharmacies with eCommerce sites benefit hugely from their stock being integrated online and in-store.
Data = knowledge. Insights into customer buying habits, best-selling products, highest selling-team members etc.
Across the board, EPOS systems tie in with databases like the C+D data website. (N.B., there may well be a mark-up on the price than if you were to subscribe to the data yourselves, but it’s one less thing to do when it’s included in basically every package.)
Some of the Top Pharmacy EPOS Systems in the UK
Positive Solutions – Analyst EPOS System
Positive Solutions also had an entry in our PMR Comparison Guide, and whilst you might not be in the market for a PMR system right now, it is relevant, and that’s a bit of a trend throughout this article. Your software all working together makes everything seamless. No matter what system you log on to, all the data works together. This simplifies your business so much.
Their main USP is the digital ecosystem in which their products sit. As I mentioned in the PMR Guide, their system is the clear winner if you’re interested in their Integrated Pharmacy Solution.
As we’ll also cover with MedEpos, integrations are valuable to your pharmacy team’s workflow.
Why is it important for my PMR system to integrate with my EPOS system?
Picture the scene in a peak time rush. You’re pharmacist on the counter. The next patient in line asks if their prescription is ready yet. Your PMR terminal is in the back of the pharmacy, and there’s a queue of people waiting. You nip into the back. The terminal’s in use. You either have to interrupt what the other pharmacist is doing, or wait for them to finish. All the while, that queue of people is stood there with no one at the counter.
With an integrated PMR in your EPOS system, you can check there and then where that patient’s prescription is.
“It got sent to us 5 minutes ago,” you say.
“So is it ready yet?”
It’s worth checking out their website, or calling them for a conversation if you have other automations, such as dispensing robots, as Positive Solutions boast integrations with other automation partners like BD Rowa.
MedEpos hardware comes with a rear-screen (customer-facing) that can display advertisements and messages just like any digital screen in your pharmacy. You can also use it for your CPPQ requirements. This has the nice little bonus of keeping the patient occupied during any wait, and helps you meet your survey quota.
MedEpos is partnered with Cegedim, and integrates with Pharmacy Manager, Cegedim’s PMR system. Again, it’s going to be a popular choice with pharmacies who already have Pharmacy Manager as their PMR system, as your PMR and EPOS systems playing nicely together presents real benefits on the shop floor.
And going with MedEpos, that’s exactly what will happen. With access to both Pharmacy Manager and MedEpos at your pharmacy counter (presuming you’re wanting a fixed desktop EPOS unit) your dispensing process is seamless, saving you and your whole pharmacy team time, and improving patient interaction.
CSY, involved in the Pharmacy sector for over 15 years, and several hundred pharmacies use their service and are also recommended by the National Pharmacy Association.
Their focus is on-premise EPOS solutions, which for many pharmacy teams is a huge plus. Unreliable N3 connections can cripple a cloud-based pharmacy. This may become less of an issue in the future with more superfast reliable broadband, but for now, reliability remains the principle focus of a lot of pharmacies.
CSY’s EPOS product was built with multiples in mind, rather than some providers who have just tweaked their offering to incorporate a multiple solution. Indeed, their list of pharmacy clients is predominantly pharmacy groups with 15+ branches minimum.
If you’re a pharmacy multiple, it’s going to be well worth your time having a conversation with CSY.
Integration with WooCommerce
CSY’s system integrates with WooCommerce, which in layman’s terms is what turns a WordPress website into an eCommerce site.
A fan of Pointy from Google?
For those who don’t know what Pointy is, it essentially takes all the products from your inventory and lists them on Google in the shopping tab. People can find you through your products, directly from Google search.
You don’t need to operate eCommerce, (though that would help), as Pointy can direct people to your store to get the item they need.
With CSY’s EPOS. you can download Pointy directly onto your CSY EPOS system and get started immediately.
So which is the best Pharmacy EPOS system for your pharmacy?
The best pharmacy EPOS providers for pharmacies in the UK all allow approximately the same functionality of stock management, recording customer buying data and end-of-month automatic reporting. In reality, the best choice for your business is going to come down to additional factors, such as additional hardware you may need, the price points, and what software you currently have that you’d like your EPOS system to integrate with.
Don’t forget, this is far from an exhaustive list of suppliers. MedEpos, Positive Solutions, and CSY Retail give you a varied selection to consider initially.
Something to consider is asking any Locums that work for you for their feedback on systems they’ve worked with. The advantage of them working in different locations is they may well have worked with multiple different systems. Their feedback might provide valuable insight for your pharmacy.
Have you been using a particular EPOS system for your pharmacy sales? Finding a solution useful or poor? We’d love to hear from you.
If you’re looking for help in selecting the right EPOS for your pharmacy, please get in touch with us. We’ll be glad to help.
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