With the growth of chain drugstores over the past thirty years, independent pharmacies might seem like a sign of the past. However, they can still be found throughout the country and offer benefits not seen at larger box stores. Many people would be surprised to find that independent pharmacies represent an $80 billion piece of the pharmaceutical industry. Often, patients don’t spend time researching pharmacies before choosing one, but many who try independent pharmacies leave as loyal customers.
In order to compete with larger chains, independent pharmacies offer attractive incentives. For example, many independent pharmacies have delivery services. This added convenience is one of the biggest points of differentiation between independent and big box retailers. Delivery is particularly beneficial for elderly patients unable to drive or those confined to their homes. Some stores have partnered with local senior care facilities, so the delivery services can reach a large number of customers with minimal trips.
Independent pharmacies can partner with others to receive similarly discounted prescriptions as larger competitors, so they don’t necessarily mean increased prices. Patients can use their same prescription benefits card and pay the same co-pay as they would at a larger chain. By using innovative IVR systems for pharmacies, they are able to be efficient in electronically managing patient prescriptions, refills, and inventory, among other benefits. This helps independent pharmacies streamline the checkout process to quickly fill customer needs and offer a customer experience equivalent to much larger chains.
Other independent pharmacies provide compounding services, which means pharmacists actually have the skills to create and mix prescriptions by hand. This can be useful for people with an allergy to a nonessential ingredient in a mass-produced prescription, or it can be used for veterinary medications. Larger pharmacy chains often don’t offer this service, but it’s a profitable niche for independent pharmacies.
Focus on Patients
The National Community Pharmacists Association reports that independent pharmacies are able to provide superior customer service. Independent patient surveys show the level of increased customer satisfaction. Pharmacists are often able to get to know patients’ medication needs and spend time giving individual consultations. Many independent pharmacies are family owned and truly provide specialized prescription care.
Independent pharmacies are a great alternative to larger retail chains. They offer competitive pricing, unique services, and high-level customer service. If shopping around for a new pharmacy, it would be worth your time to research local pharmacies and visit one for your next prescription.