Improve your online sales
Does your veterinary hospital operate an online pharmacy? Is the pharmacy integrated with your practice information management system? Does it sell prescription medications, preventives and therapeutic pet food? Do you promote it on your social media channels?
If you answered “yes” to all four questions, you’re in the majority.
The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association asked nearly 200 clinics about their online pharmacy or lack of one. Dr. Karen E. Felsted, who reported the findings in a recent Insiders’ Insights report (and so happens to have co-written this issue’s cover story, “How to Survive the Recession”), pointed out that 13% of the practices surveyed didn’t have an online pharmacy.
What surprised me was the number of active clients who used their hospitals’ online pharmacies before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — only about 1 in 10, at best, at more than 80% of the clinics surveyed. The percentages have improved slightly since March, when shelter-in-place directives spread nationwide.
One of the chief reasons for the modest interaction rate — most clients aren’t aware of the online pharmacy — is easily correctable. You need to promote it, advertise it, get the word out. Otherwise, how will pet owners know it exists?
Socially Acceptable columnist Eric D. Garcia, in his article on Page 36, shared a finding from the research service Diggo, which discovered that only 16% of pet owners think their veterinary practice has an online pharmacy. The headline, says it all. You’re not going to see a big return on selling pet drugs and other products online if you don’t publicize the service.
One of Garcia’s tips centers on the use of Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to get the word out. “Don’t be afraid to have fun advertising your online pharmacy on social media,” he writes. “Snap a photo of a cat on top of (or inside) a medications delivery box, making sure to include your practice’s online label in the shot along with a cute caption.”
The VHMA survey found that 63% of the clinics operating an online pharmacy market it on social media. Doing a lot more of that, and following some of the other best practices outlined on Page 36, could be the secret to making your online store a serious moneymaker.
Ken Niedziela, editor