Making Pharmacies More Digital

Why digitizing the pharmacy experience has become absolutely imperative.

Picking up your prescription at your local pharmacy is more often than not a hassle. Chances are, you make a pit stop after work to your pharmacy and surprise…you’re not the only person with the same plan. You wait in line because you have no other choice; it’s not the same experience as buying a Snickers bar because you actually need your prescription. You may need the prescription to survive or for some other reason that can likely boil up to what you’d consider a life necessity.

The average customer has the same pharmacy prescription pickup routine they did 20 years ago.

How are we still wasting our time with all this waiting and unnecessary pit stops when we have digital solutions to remedy them? I order my Sweetgreens salad on the app, I order my flyfishing reels online at Cabela’s, but I’m still going into my pharmacy to pick up my prescription. My doctor gives me the prescription and I go pick it up just like I did 20 years ago. Looking into this problem it’s clear that even while there are options to buy prescriptions online, customers have been slow to adopt these solutions.

The current challenge in the space of pharmacies is two fold. For one, people are so accustomed to going into the store it has become part of their routine and routines are very hard to break. Second, the digital experiences replacing the in-store pickup are not so great. To be fair, the functionality of ordering prescription drugs online is still relatively new to both the consumer and the pharmacies alike. On top of that, there aren’t many competitors in the pharmacy space to push innovation and as a result the consumer suffers with a mediocre at best online experience. The good news is that there are a rising number of competitors following the online only model (no physical store locations) that are beginning to shake things up. Companies like phil.us are exclusively online and make things easy by offering free delivery, communicating with your doctor for your new prescriptions and prescription management for your entire family. With everything online, you’re not waiting in line. You can customize your prescription delivery to the date of your choice and avoid the unnecessary pit stop to your local pharmacy on the way home from work.

The only other alternative pharmacies have to going digital is to make the in-store experience somehow enjoyable. Considering the current state, it does seem like a stretch to expect big pharmacy stores to make a great experience in the store. Perhaps smaller mom and pop type pharmacies are better equipped to deliver a great experience in the store with a more personal touch. By building a relationship where customers look to their pharmacist as a trusted advisor or even a friend, customers will be less likely to leave for another pharmacy. Other in-store experience improvements like not having to wait in line pale in comparison to the experience a digital solution can provide in terms of convenience.

Truth is, these big pharmacies want customers to continue to come into their stores and spend money on other items as they pick up their prescriptions. In that case their best approach would likely be to continue to progress both experiences in-store and online with the expectation that eventually their customers will wise up and switch to a digital prescription management routine.

Pharmacy retailers are slowly waking up to society’s digital transformation. We can anticipate the pharmacy digital experiences to continue to improve as the big players look to keep their customers from switching to the up and coming online competitors. Making a great experience for online pharmacy visitors has never been more important.