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The decline of footfall and consequential retail sales has impacted many Community Pharmacies. NearSt offers an innovative solution for boosting both.

Why should pharmacies appear in local searches? And why is NearSt a great tool for boosting pharmacy retail sales? The points below should convince you of its utility.

  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over the last two years. (Source: Chat Meter
  • 83% of online shoppers are willing to go in-store if a product’s availability is guaranteed beforehand. (Source: Google)
  • 47% of pharmacy shoppers want digital inventory management to know if items are in-stock before they go. (Source: PYMNTS, 2022)
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics, 2022)
  • 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.

Can this work with my Pharmacy Mentor website?

You’re darn right it can! We can integrate NearSt with your website via different means. We can create hyperlinks, embed widgets and more. Get in touch with us to find out how.

Case Study – NearSt

I know you love a good case study, so here’s two for the price of one. (Sorry for the retail pun.)

How a local chemist used NearSt as a no-fuss solution to drive in-store customers

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!”

How a rural pharmacy got their product catalogue online instantly with NearSt

“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.

Head over to NearSt’s website or email us at growth@pharmacymentor.com and ask us for an introduction.

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Most community pharmacies have a pharmacy website. But just having a website is pointless if it doesn’t serve a purpose for your pharmacy.

What makes a good pharmacy website?

A good pharmacy website is one that creates value for your business. Good pharmacy websites are assets, just like a member of your team. And just like a member of your team, your website should be nurtured, not neglected.

This is a list of 5 features you should treat your website to. With all these in place, you’ll quickly see the value of a “good” pharmacy website.

what does a good pharmacy website look like?

1. Discoverability (Search Engine Optimisation)

Creating a website that gets no visitors is about as useful as opening up a pharmacy in the middle of the Sahara desert. Ie, you just shouldn’t bother.

With every website should be a plan to acquire visitors. Don’t have one? Get one.

A lot of people expect that somehow when their website is built, visitors will sort of just, happen.

There’s a definite blind spot between consumers and website designers, where consumers expect this to be part of their website build, and designers don’t ask the right questions for the client to realise that the on-page content needs to be optimised for search engines to pick it up.

So, whose responsibility is it?

I sympathise a little with the designers. Designers see themselves as architects, not interior designers. You wouldn’t expect your architect to choose your wallpaper. That’s how most web developers see the written content on your website. As your responsibility. After all, their speciality is coding, not writing.

However, I sympathise more with the business buying the website. Websites are relatively new, compared to my analogy of houses and architects. And because they’re new, there isn’t a common understanding of how they work. So in my view, it’s on the agency, service provider to make sure the client is at least aware of what having a website entails.

However, there are a surprising number of web development agencies who wash their hands of the success of a website once it leaves the design phase.

We are very transparent with our clients that without an SEO strategy in place to attract visitors to their site, the website won’t be as effective.

What is SEO and how does it attract visitors?

If you don’t know what SEO is or how it works, I’d strongly recommend you check out our complete guide to SEO. But in a nutshell, SEO is the process of optimising your website so it shows up on search engines.

SEO tells Google what searches you’d like to show up for

Whilst there are a lot of technical aspects that contribute to SEO that do fall under the responsibility of your web development team, your on-page content (ie the words on your website) determines which search terms you want your website to show up for. So it’s massively important this is given the attention it deserves, not swept under the rug like it often is.

Is there no other way to attract visitors?

Technically, there could be other ways you attract visitors to your pharmacy website, but realistically, most pharmacies don’t have anything like the right online infrastructure in place to do this. For instance, you could have a great email or social media funnel which regularly links to your website. But even if you did, that’s no reason to close the door on an opportunity to attract thousands of new visitors.

2. Modern, mobile-friendly design

Design matters so much when it comes to your website. Website design isn’t just how a website looks, but also how it works, how it’s laid out, and how easy it is to use. And especially nowadays, how easy it is to use on a mobile device.

Why design of a pharmacy website matters so much

In this whole section on design, and I can’t promise it will end there, user expectations will dominate the conversation.

Expectation vs Reality

There are three levels to expectations. You can either exceed, meet, or fall short of them. And at the time of writing, so many pharmacy websites fall short of the public’s expectations.

Where do these expectations come from? Experience. And not just with a pharmacy website. But with any website.

Your pharmacy website should be as easy to use as any modern website, because that’s what you’re up against in the eyes of the public.

If your website doesn’t meet expectations, people will leave, and quickly.

Ever-evolving design

Great design starts with good foundations, but it shouldn’t end there. Once your site is live, you can analyse how users are interacting with your site.

Understanding how your users behave on your website helps you create an even better design, which encourages more users to spend more time on your pharmacy website. The longer they spend on your website, the more they understand what you offer. The more they understand what you offer, the more likely they are to take you up on that offer. It’s a lovely little chain that all starts with the design of your site.

What are the expectations of a pharmacy website?

Expectations for a pharmacy website would be the same as the expectations of a pharmacy:

  • Clean and spacious feel
  • Intuitive layout
  • Clearly signposted areas of interest e.g., prescriptions, clinics, products
  • Short waiting times
  • Information & advice available on demand
  • Accessible contact
  • Ability to book and pay for services & products

The more you imagine replicating your pharmacy experience on your website, the better your website will be.

A good user experience (UX)

The bar for best practice is constantly being raised, as both technology and developer’s skills improve. This is why older designs aren’t feasible anymore. It’s like modern cars being designed without anti-lock brakes, or power steering. The technology is there, so there’s no excuse to not incorporate it into your design. Asking people to use your old website with poor functionality is like trying to sell a car from the ’90s in a new showroom. No one’s going to accept it.

3. Updated Information

Updated information on a pharmacy website helps both you and your community. The last thing your pharmacy team needs is pressure from patients who’ve read something on your website that doesn’t apply anymore, such as opening times, or prices.

Consistently updating your website might seem like a lot of effort. But if you think of how many people that information serves, compared to how many times you’d have to individually explain it over the phone or in-person…it is actually a time-saver.

Imagine how many fewer phone calls you’d get if your website had up-to-date COVID information on it. (Now, that particular example is extreme, as it isn’t your information, and it’s changing constantly, but it’s a relevant example for the moment.)

Search engines love updated content

Updated information also helps with your on-page SEO, which we talked about earlier. Search engines want to give their users the most relevant information for their queries, so fresh information has a better chance of being recommended more highly.

4. Booking Calendar

A booking calendar gives all your online marketing activities a focal point. It gives your customer journey a finish line. In short, as a pharmacy aiming for more clinical bookings – it’s your marketing’s raison d’etre (the reason it exists).

Directing people to your booking calendar

Social Media Posts

Now, this doesn’t mean that every time you make any post on social media ever, you link your booking calendar. But anything that relates to your services can (and should) absolutely have a link to book the service in question.

Blog Posts

The same goes for any blog posts you do. The reason you should be blogging is to drive relevant traffic to your website. Relevant, in a pharmacy’s case, means people who might well become patients or customers. Throughout these blogs, but especially at the end of the blog, you need to provide a link and show people they’re able to book now.

If the blog is about a health condition, there’s a good chance they’ve just searched their symptoms on Google. Now they’ve come to your website because of the updated information on your website that you’ve optimised for search engines, (see points 1 & 3), you might link to booking a consultation with a pharmacist.

If they found your private clinic page, it means they’re looking for treatment, and there should be an option to book that treatment, making it as easy as possible for people to use your pharmacy.

Free up your pharmacy team

Your pharmacy team is too busy to handle bookings. Especially when it’s often not just bookings, but rescheduling or cancellations. (20% to 30% of patients cancel or re-book their medical appointments ((Well App, 2021)).

Booking calendar on a pharmacy website

This pharmacy website has a separate booking calendar for each category of clinical services.

Improve Your Patient Experience

Booking an appointment online takes less than a minute. Booking over the phone takes 8.1 minutes on average, taking into account being put on hold. (CalendarHero, 2021).

87% of potential new patients do not leave a message or book an appointment when reaching voicemail (CallTracker).

An elegant solution, a simple website addition

Let your website handle your pharmacy bookings and you get:

  • Increased bookings – physicians who offer online appointments alongside phone appointments were booked 24% more than those who offer phone appointments only (Dental Economics, 2021).
  • Out-of-hours bookings made – 43% of patients search for health care professionals after business hours (Dental Economics, 2021).
  • Minimise no-shows (especially in combination with text/email reminders)
  • Give a sensible Call-To-Action (CTA) for any service-related digital marketing activities
  • Efficient appointments – online appointment scheduling makes time for two extra patients every day (Deloitte).

Booking software is cost-effective, especially if you have an already thriving clinical business. Just in the time saved for your pharmacy team, it pays for itself.

5. Payments

Having an online payments solution on your website hinges on whether or not you sell products or take bookings through your website. But on the assumption that you’re doing at least one of those two things, taking payments online is a real must.

Why should I accept payments on my pharmacy website?

Firstly, with a pharmacy eCommerce website, (follow the link for a how-to guide for eCommerce), payments are a must. You can’t sell products if you can’t take payments. There isn’t much more that needs to be said on that.

Even if you’re only promoting clinical services, however, taking online payments on your pharmacy website is a massive boon. We touched on minimising no-shows in the previous point, and it applies again here. When someone has paid for a service, they’re committed to showing up, allowing you to run your clinic without constantly wondering if the next patient’s going to be there.

It’s more convenient for both you and your patients

If a patient has already paid, they don’t need to remember to bring anything to the appointment. There isn’t an issue if your card machine stops working, or if you don’t have the right change.

Also…

Payments take up everyone’s time

Let’s say private Flu Vaccine Clinic appointment slots are 5 minutes, and it takes a minute to make a payment.

For every 5 patients you see, you lose an appointment slot. And if your calendar doesn’t take this time into account, it can quickly make your time run over for your appointments.

Allowing people to pay when they book kills two birds with one stone, allowing your clinic to run efficiently, and with peace of mind that those appointments will actually be fulfilled. Read more about online payments here.

Online Payment Gateways for Pharmacy

Read our article for the Top Online Payment Gateways for your Pharmacy.

 


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