How to Compete with Big Discounters Online and Win

Meeting the needs of modern consumers can be a challenge for pharmacists. Big pharmacy discounters with powerful brand identities and huge advertising budgets can offer pharmacy goods at prices brick-and-mortar pharmacists struggle to even match – much less beat!  This challenge becomes even greater when you add the online discounters in the mix. Consumers can get low-priced healthcare and pharmacy goods delivered to their homes in a matter of days.  

Sometimes, it feels a bit bleak. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can hold your own competing online against the big players. You can get an edge by focusing on two things: your trusted and personalised expertise and the convenience you offer. Read on:

When they don’t know what they need

Here’s the reality: you can’t always compete with huge chain retailers on price, but they can’t compete with you on personalised, trusted advice and service.

When people know exactly what they want, they can search online and find it. But many customers don’t know exactly what they want. They just know that they have a problem. It might be a sore foot, scratchy throat or something else bothering them. They want it treated but they don’t know how to treat it. That’s where you come in.

The familiarity of your local community pharmacy holds weight online. One of the biggest hurdles for consumers online is feeling like the information they are reading or the purchasing decisions they are making are trustworthy. The advantage you have if they engage with your business online, is that they know that if anything goes wrong, they can easily jump in the car and come and talk to a human being.

Convenience trumps price

The big guys may sell products for a few dollars less than you charge. But you have another edge over them, regardless of the price difference: convenience. When someone wants a solution to their health problem, they’re often not going to be that keen on waiting a few days for relief from their symptoms. They want to be treated now. After all, if you’re sore or sick, a couple of days can feel like a long time!

So, by making sure people know that you are nearby, and showcasing the services you offer and the products you sell, you can get an edge by offering the convenience of access to the things customers need to get better, right now.

How do you get them in the door?

These two advantages give you a real edge over the large-scale, low-priced competition. But they depend on something critical: potential customers need to know that you exist.  You need to be online, because that’s where your customers are looking for solutions to their health problems.

Even if customers don’t intend on buying their products online, they are likely to start their search online. The physical location of your pharmacy relative to the location of your customer gives you an advantage over pharmacies further afield in online search results. When your customer discovers your pharmacy in these searches, they may well just pop in because you’re closer and they know you have what they need. Stopping by your pharmacy is often a much easier option than ordering online or driving further afield to save a couple of dollars. But they’ll only come by if they know you’re there and have the products they’re looking for – otherwise, they’ll go with the big discounters because they think they don’t have any alternatives!

Be sure to showcase what you sell in a professional format, with high quality imagery and detailed product descriptions. You could even go as far as notifying your customers that products they love or items they regularly purchase are on promotion. Build a database of customer email addresses that you can send relevant information to. How can a large discount pharmacy compete with this level of service?

How can you get started?

  • Make sure you have a website – this way, people know where you are. Read more about what kind of pharmacy website you may need.  
  • Make sure your pharmacy products and health services are on your website this way, people who are after specific things know they can just pop in to get them, today.
  • Make sure your website has your pharmacy contact information readily accessible across your site – the basics, like your phone number, address and opening hours. This gives your customer confidence that you are ready to answer their questions when they’re ready to talk to someone. The ability to talk to an experienced in-house pharmacist is a huge incentive.
  • Lastly, make the exceptional customer service you offer front and centre. Fill your website with real customer reviews and offer a robust no hassle returns policy.

In many cases, this is all it takes to compete, and win! Because after all, big box pharmacy may be able to provide better deals, but they can’t possibly provide the localised and personalised advice, customer experience and convenience that you offer. All you need to do is make sure potential customers know you can help them, today.

Storbie is the award-winning website and ecommerce platform for pharmacies, making it possible for pharmacy owners to deliver a comprehensive online experience to customers. Let patients learn about symptoms from a range of health articles, and soon book appointments for your pharmacy services. Easily promote and sell products to patients offering click & collect or delivery options. Named Supplier of the Year at the 2018 NZ Pharmacy Awards, Storbie is recommended by the Pharmacy Guild of NZ and is the number 1 pharmacy website platform in NZ, now also offering a solution to Australian pharmacies. Learn more here.