This month Rebecca Clark of PharmaWeb gives us her advice to Maximise Offline Sales using Online Channels
Whether purchasing or researching or simply looking for opening hours, your customers are doing this online. It is now essential for your Pharmacy to have an online presence. Websites combined with mobile and social channels have changed the business landscape for your pharmacy. Here are my top tips to maximise your offline sales through the best use of online.
- Why should I be online?
Put simply, existing online allows you to be found. Your customers are online and the increase of smartphone usage means that they expect everything to be available at the touch of a button. If you’re customers can’t find you online, you can be sure they will find your competitors.
You should think of your website as your online shop front. Everything on the site should reflect what is currently happening in your business in terms of your services, staff, special offers, opening hours and contact details.
Getting online is simple and a website can take as much or as little time as you are able to give it. Find a development company that will look after the majority of the website build for you. The website should be maintained each month by adding up to date offers, a blog post or pharmacy news for your readers. Do not discount the effectiveness of social media. Every business should have a Facebook Page at the very least. Facebook allows you to convey short messages, and an audience of thousands of local people can be grown very quickly with very minimal spend if done correctly.
- Don’t sell online
Controversial point! Everything you read and hear at the moment is probably telling you to sell online, that eCommerce is invaluable to your business. Whilst this is true for some pharmacies, the amount of planning and time to manage it might mean it is not for you at this point in time. eCommerce works very well for businesses who are geared up to make it work, but it can be a cumbersome road to go down, the initial set up, adding thousands of product lines to your website, marketing and managing orders requires a dedicated member of staff manage and maximise sales.
Research online, purchase offline (ROPO) describes a trend in buying behaviour where customers research relevant product information to qualify their buying decision, before they actually decide to buy in the local store. 88% of internet users in Ireland research products online before buying in a local store.(Source Mediascope) Ensure you’re website is the best selling tool it can be, even if you sell nothing online.
Always keep in mind that websites built up up-to-date modern platforms will be flexible to add eCommerce into them if you decide to do this in time.
- Coordinate online and offline marketing
Most pharmacies have an established offline marketing strategy. Newspaper advertising, mail drops, in store signage, brochures, window displays, special offers, events all can be promoted online. Your website and social media give you the opportunity to hit a different audience and duplicate your messaging to a new audience. For example, if you hold an annual event or coffee morning –create an event on Facebook that can hold all the information, allow people to book in their attendance and share with friends. Your monthly special offers should be on your website blog or dedicated offers page, updated each month so it is never out of date, share with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram followers to gain extra exposure for these offers.
- Important considerations
When planning your online strategy it is important to consider the following:
35% of users are reported to access internet on their mobile devices. PharmaWeb measured pharmacy clients’ traffic specifically and found this to be higher at around 40% as of September 2015 – this is only going to rise. If your website is not optimised to render well on a mobile device Google will now penalise your site in its search results. If you have a website designed ensure it will be responsive for mobile from the get go with your developer. If you have an existing website, your site can usually be converted to be responsive for a small investment.
All images used on your website or social media should be good quality. Unfocused, low resolution photographs portray bad quality of your business so spend a little time getting this right. Be very careful when using photography or product images from the internet. Most images are subject to copyright and if an image is used incorrectly you can be subject to fines for it’s use. Always pay for stock photography, never use an image that is watermarked as a stock image. A little vigilance in this area could save you a lot of hassle down the line.
Good search engine optimisation is key to achieving top rankings for your site on search engines. When using a web development company ensure this is included as part of your package and view other sites from their portfolio to check they know what they are doing, don’t go by promises alone an under ranked website can be expensive to fix later on.
Secure Payment Options:
If you do take payments online, ensure you are PCI Compliant. This is a general rule to cover the use of online credit cards. Most 3rd party payment companies provide this cover – PayPal, Realex etc. Do your research on this to ensure you are compliant, your web development company will be able to advise on this.
PharmaWeb provides online solutions for pharmacies. Developed specifically to meet the online requirements of the independent pharmacy sector, we have created a suite of products to bring innovation to your pharmacy and connect you with your customers online. We understand the challenges currently being faced in the industry, our solutions are designed to offer each pharmacy a point of difference to become competitive online. Contact Rebecca on 025 32098 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.