In November 2020, Amazon announced a prescription medication delivery service and portal for patients to purchase medications through their online store. This places the Amazon pharmacy in direct competition with local pharmacies nationwide. According to a Cowen & Co. survey, three out of five Amazon Prime members reported that they would consider using Amazon pharmacy to fill their prescriptions.

Amazon’s pharmacy distribution strategy is changing consumer expectations, and local pharmacies will need to adjust to meet these new preferences.

The Amazon Pharmacy

The Amazon pharmacy makes it possible for consumers to purchase their prescription drugs online and have them delivered to their homes. Prime members will even receive free two-day deliveries for most medications.

Amazon makes signing up for their pharmacy extremely simple. It only takes about five minutes. The pharmacy portal asks several questions about medications, health history, and other health concerns. After providing insurance information and a list of regular medications, consumers can order medications directly from the Amazon pharmacy.

The Amazon pharmacy will accept most insurance plans and can check to see if medications are covered. Amazon pharmacy can be used without insurance as well, and it offers the lowest possible price for anyone who doesn’t have insurance.

Adjusting to New Customer Expectations

Consumers have come to trust Amazon with much of their online shopping. They automatically head to Amazon to make many of their daily purchases. Now that Amazon is providing medication, it is likely that many people will start using Amazon as their main pharmacy.

As the Amazon pharmacy raises industry standards in mail-order prescriptions, it will affect consumer expectations. Local pharmacy customers will expect the ease of filling prescriptions online, as well as a portal that saves prescription and insurance information online. They’ll also expect convenient phone support and the ease of tracking their order online. Customers will also expect fast and reliable delivery.

Local pharmacies will need to raise the bar to stay competitive. Following the Amazon pharmacy approach by improving delivery speed and service will keep your pharmacy relevant. You will also need to differentiate your business from this new competitor with quality customer support and adjust to new customer expectations.

How Your Pharmacy can Stay Competitive

Adding automation tools to your pharmacy will help you meet customer expectations for quick prescription filling and mail-order pharmacy services. This can help you achieve growth and stay competitive as the market changes.

Increase Filling Speed

Customers expect prescriptions to be filled quickly and conveniently. Using an automated system can help you meet that demand. Automated pharmacy systems streamline productivity and improve your workflow. By reducing the time spent on filling orders, you’ll reduce fill times, and easily offer same-day or next-day refills.

Increasing filling speed will help you stay competitive, and can keep your customers from switching to Amazon pharmacy.

Better Customer Service

Before pharmacy automation systems, pharmacists spent a lot of time manually counting, filling, and labeling each prescription. With automation technology up and running in your pharmacy, you have more time for other tasks, such as performing health screenings and immunizations. You will also have time to provide exceptional customer service.

When it comes to customer service, you can easily outperform Amazon. As a local pharmacy, you’re able to create personal relationships with your customers, answer important patient questions regarding drug interactions, and exceed customer expectations. Your customers will be more satisfied if they have direct access to a pharmacist and get answers they can trust.

Reduce Costs and Waste

The Amazon pharmacy can keep its prices low and customers will expect the same from their local pharmacies. Automated pharmacy systems can help you keep costs down by preventing waste. For example, if you need to draw three grams from a ten-gram vial by hand, you may have to discard the vial. An automated system is sterile and capable of drawing from the same vial twice. This reduces waste and results in long-term savings, allowing you to set competitive prices.

Local Expertise

Your pharmacy provides local expertise to your customers. You can offer your community up-to-date health and safety recommendations that are relevant to your customers. You’re aware of any health concerns in your area, and you can provide personalized information and advice to improves customer health outcomes.

Local customers also rely on you for clinical services such as immunizations, and other important information such as drug interactions and dosing. Learn to leverage your local expertise to go above and beyond the Amazon pharmacy.

Better Connections

As a local pharmacy, you have an advantage over Amazon when it comes to personal and professional connections. Your business builds personal relationships with customers in your area, and you also have connections with local doctors, hospitals, specialists, and other healthcare providers. Your connections are a great resource for your customers, and this is a service that Amazon pharmacy can’t provide.

Physical Location

Amazon’s mail-order pharmacy may be convenient, but they don’t have a physical location. Your pharmacy can offer the same fast filling and delivery as Amazon, and you have the added benefit of a physical location. You’ll be available for in-person customer support, and customers can pick up refills rather than waiting for the mail to arrive. Having a physical location also means you can quickly and efficiently correct any errors in prescriptions, and ensure your customers always have the medications they need.

Pharmacy Automation Keeps You Competitive

Customers expect their medications delivered quickly, accurately, safely, and confidentially. As a local pharmacy, meeting these new consumer expectations may take some restructuring. Understand your points of value, and think about the benefits your pharmacy offers that Amazon doesn’t have.

Then increase your speed. The right pharmacy automation system can help you keep up with consumer expectations. Noritsu will partner with you to analyze your workflow, offering you multiple levels of technology solutions to streamline your productivity. We’ll help you choose the right technology that makes logistical and financial sense, and help you stay competitive in this changing market.

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