Best Practices

How to Build Sustainable Home Delivery in Your Pharmacy

A successful delivery program relies on more than prescription sales. Make a plan to keep delivery useful, efficient and, if at all possible, profitable.

There are many reasons to integrate home delivery service into your pharmacy business model. What once may have been a non-essential convenience service is now a baseline expectation for many consumers. Beyond convenience, home delivery can provide a competitive edge against other prescription delivery services which can’t offer next-day delivery in rural areas.

There are, however, some cons to go with all of this pro-delivery logic. First, delivery services have costs associated with them. There’s the delivery driver, gas money, vehicle maintenance and time, to name a few. Many also worry that a customer delivered to is a customer that isn’t coming into the pharmacy where they might make additional non-prescription purchases.

If this is the standoff you find yourself in when considering implementing a home delivery program, try reframing the question. Instead of asking, “Does it make sense to offer home delivery?” try “How can I make home delivery work?” instead!

Much like day-to-day business in your pharmacy, a successful delivery program has to rely on more than prescription sales. You need a game plan from the get-go that will keep delivery useful, efficient and, if at all possible, profitable.

Here are some of the ways you can build a home delivery program that makes sense for your pharmacy business.

Combine with Medication Synchronization.

Patients coming in multiple times a month for various prescriptions is hard enough. If you’re trying to make multiple deliveries a month to the same patient, your delivery program will represent a huge drain on your resources. When you combine medication synchronization and delivery, you alleviate pressure from your day-to-day and your delivery program. If you don’t have a medication synchronization program just yet, you can learn how to get started with pharmacist, pharmacy owner and med sync pioneer Bob Lomenick.

Deliver more than prescriptions.

Just as delivery programs have risen in popularity, it seems like there are subscription services for practically everything these days. Get in on the trend and delivery other necessities to your patients. This can be your patient’s monthly supply of vitamins and dietary supplements or their diabetic testing supplies. Or, if you’re chatting with them before making the delivery, you can inquire about other OTC’s or necessities they might need that month. Your front end is a great place to look to generate revenue and you don’t have to let that opportunity go just because someone isn’t coming into the store.

Build sustainable processes.

Delivery programs need to make sense from a time-management perspective. Outside of the costs to run and staff a delivery program, there’s a cost for the time spent in the pharmacy to complete all aspects of the delivery transaction. Make sure you have a way to create transactions and queue them for delivery, a plan to collect payments and a way to electronically capture signatures so they are accessible during an audit just like any other transaction. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use delivery software that’s built into your pharmacy point-of-sale system.

Evaluate fees.

To charge or not to charge? This might be the most controversial question in delivery. And, unfortunately, it’s not a question with a one-size-fits-all answer. Consider a few factors when deciding whether to charge for delivery or not. First, your major brick and mortar and online competitors offer free delivery as a general rule, but whether that service is readily available in your community is another question. Find out what’s available to your community now and try to meet or beat that pricing. Also consider that fees help pay for the costs of running a delivery service, but may result in some attrition over time, even if your service is better and faster. You might consider tiers in your fees. Free delivery for customers who’ve attained a certain loyalty level or with multiple prescriptions. Other potential factors influencing fees might include having non-prescription items in the delivery or implementing a purchase threshold for free delivery.

Remember, you may need some trial and error to find the right answer for your pharmacy and your customers. Not only in fee structures but in schedules and processes. Keep an open mind and stay flexible to find a model that truly works in your pharmacy business!

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