1) DOES YOUR SOFTWARE

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1 Soft Landing Does your current software give your retail pharmacy business the visibility and flexibility you need to be responsive and competitive? Or, could it be that your operation has outgrown the business management system? The retail world is complex the growth of U.S. ecommerce sales, mobile technologies raising customer expectations, and the need to protect customers cardholder data in the face of data security breaches making it all the more important for you to meet and exceed those pressing demands with confidence. Having the right pharmacy retail management software, one that can keep up with not only your business needs, but also deploys technology to improve customer experience and protect your business, is critical. At some point, an outdated system no longer serves your business. It begins to hinder instead of help you achieve financial growth and expansion goals. Given the recent advancements in technology and higher customer expectations perhaps it s time to ask if your pharmacy retail management software is up to the task of nurturing and managing growth over the coming decade and beyond. To help assess how well your current software is meeting your needs, ask these six questions, and then decide if it s time to look at a next-generation software for your retail pharmacy business. 1) DOES YOUR SOFTWARE ALLOW THE BUSINESS TO OPTIMIZE OPERATIONS TO REDUCE COST AND MAXIMIZE PROFIT? Successful pharmacy retailers continually strive to streamline operations and become more competitive by 30 America s PHARMACIST October 2015

2 Answer six questions to decide if it s time for new pharmacy retail management software by Keith Lam reducing costs and implementing more efficient processes. Take a look at your operations can you precisely analyze inventory levels to prevent stockouts and overstock of prescriptions or OTC for patients, facilitate fast receiving, and guarantee fast checkout speeds for an exceptional customer experience? The best pharmacy retail systems deliver integrated core functionality so that you can work on your business instead of in your business. Point-of-sale workstations should empower your employees to quickly scan items look them up by name, description or part number if the barcode is missing. Your inventory database should be accurate and up-to-date (made possible by cycle counting), allowing you to easily view and trust quantity on hand so that you can reduce back orders and lost sales, and run a leaner and more profitable business. Pricing strategies should be based on a critical combination of data from competitors, suppliers, and store locations. The pharmacy retail management software that you choose today should provide seamless functionality for all aspects of your business. 2) CAN YOUR BUSINESS DELIVER EXCEPTIONAL, PERSONALIZED CUSTOMER SERVICE AND LOYALTY PROGRAMS? Being able to successfully conduct customer loyalty programs assigning discounts and reward points to loyal customers helps a business understand the customer base better, identify buying patterns, review sales opportunities, execute marketing campaigns, deliver personalized experiences, support special ordering, and track communication with them. Retail industry data shows that it costs six times more to attract a new customer than to retain a current one, and a 5 percent increase in retention increases profits up to 125 percent. One concrete example is Starbucks. Its loyalty program drove a 26 percent rise in profits. Other reasons to develop a great loyalty program are: Repeat customers spend 33 percent more than new customers. Return customers usually buy more since they are familiar and comfortable. Repeat customers refer others to you. A few tips that accomplish excellent customer service through loyalty include: Provide better rewards to your best customers. For example, recognize those who afford the most margin not the bargain shoppers and provide them expanded rewards on similar items or related items they would like. Understand what they buy and recommend additional items that they should buy. This creates a loyal customer who believes that you care about and understand what they like. Deliver loyalty customers sneak peeks on products, seminars on OTC items, the first chance to sample new products, or the chance to attend events that make them feel special and inclusive. Use your loyalty program to get closer to customers, and don t just provide discounts or promos. Be different than Rite Aid, CVS, or Wal- 31

3 greens. Have a dedicated resource to understand your customers buying patterns and needs. Loyalty is about engagement and continuous communication in the form and matter the customer would like. The better your understand the customer s buying patterns and needs, the better you can recommend items or services that meet their needs sometimes, even before they know they have a need. For example, if a customer comes in every month to buy a 30-day-supply of diabetic needles, you can send them a message saying that they can buy a 90-day-supply for 20 percent cheaper. They would be happy about that message and would believe that you really care about how they spend their money. They would probably come in to buy other items because you care. That is loyalty. A good business management system should guide efforts in creating proactive, responsive, and personalized shopping experiences facilitating positive interactions that keep customers returning for more and springing your pharmacy retail business on a path for growth. 3) DO YOU HAVE RELIABLE INFORMATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS WHEREVER YOU ARE? Operating an efficient business requires accurate, up-to-the-minute information on everything from inventory and special orders to pricing and profits. Modern database management, query and analytics tools, and mobile technologies make it easier than ever to get critical, useful, and relevant information to the people who need it. Does your current system provide you with visual, real-time information available remotely, on mobile devices and across multiple locations detailing margins and sales data, inventory numbers, and loyal customer purchase histories? Can your customers easily order and have products delivered to their bedside, home, or office? Is it easy to slice and dice your data, sort by branch, product or customer, and to display the data the way you need to see it? Does your software paint a clear picture of how your business is performing through a variety of customizable dashboards, charts, graphs, scorecards, and reports? At some point, an outdated system begins to hinder instead of help you achieve financial growth and expansion goals. Today s pharmacy retail management software solution should help you take the guesswork out of running a business and give you the insight to make faster, better, and more profitable decisions. 4) CAN YOU PROTECT CUSTOMERS VALUABLE CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AGAINST BANKCARD BREACHES? How does your software and hardware measure up to growing concerns around data security? Does it leverage leading security technologies such as EMV, tokenization, and point-to-point encryption to prevent data breaches? 32 America s PHARMACIST October 2015

4 In a sector as competitive as retail pharmacy, data security has moved from an IT issue to a general business concern. According to industry research firm IBISWorld, health care reform and an aging population will spur growth for the U.S. drug store and pharmacy market, the sheer size of which makes it a big target for increasingly aggressive cybercriminals. Retail pharmacies can ensure the privacy of patients protected health information with secure software. A few high-level steps you can do on your own: Be sure that you have an updated operating system (Windows 7 or later), firewall, and anti-virus software to protect against hackers coming in from the outside. If your pharmacy has Wi-Fi, ensure that it is secure and only for business use. Examine your credit card reader for unusual appearance to prevent non-approved personnel from accessing sensitive data and bankcard data. Train your staff to recognize suspicious messages and not to provide any business information or click links in suspicious s, some of which could seem to come from a friend, colleague, or reputable company. The fact that the pharmacy industry is consolidating may place data at further risk as financial information is merged across systems. The threat doesn t neglect smaller businesses. It s estimated that cybercriminals steal $1 billion every year from small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. and Europe. What s more, Experian s latest data breach industry forecast notes that the risk of businesses experiencing a data breach is higher than ever. Nearly half of all businesses have reported at least one security incident during the past year. Leading retail management software solutions use tokenization to prevent theft of payment card numbers by never storing those numbers and instead storing tokens that can t be reused elsewhere. They also utilize point-to-point encryption, which makes card data both unrecognizable and impenetrable during each transmission. In addition, implementing the EMV/ chip card change will result in fewer fraudulent credit cards being processed in your pharmacy. The result? The process to obtain Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is simplified, and you can conduct payment card transactions confidently, knowing

5 you have increased security for both your business and your customers. 5) DOES YOUR SOFTWARE COME WITH AN EXTENSIVE SUPPORT NETWORK? Can your new hires and experienced employees access support features such as elearning videos, real-time chat, user forums, and live telephone support to ease training and streamline workflow? Does your software provide quick links to these features? Consider what happens if an issue occurs with your software or hardware. Is there a dedicated customer support line available? Will your software vendor send a local platform specialist on-site for repairs? A reputable pharmacy retail management software vendor will be able to offer you extensive built-in support and services to deliver any help you need, any time you need it. 6) DOES YOUR PHARMACY RETAIL MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE GIVE YOU A COMPETITIVE EDGE? The ultimate test of the value of your pharmacy retail management software is how well it has been designed to expand as your business grows, and, whether it continues to provide a competitive edge. Have you already reached the outer edges of your software s capabilities, or have you merely scratched the surface of its capacity due to its robust functionality? Can you integrate and add new modules to better price your OTC items, manage a centralized distribution environment, or add an Internet store as your business matures, or has your system started to look like the computer version of Frankenstein s monster, a hodgepodge of third-party features that work together only on the best of days? As you upgrade to new technology, focus on what can help you provide better customer service this is a key driver in how retail pharmacies can compete with big box stores. Don t let technology get in the way of the personal touch in customer service; let technology help open more lines of communication and enhance touchpoints with your customers giving you a competitive advantage today, tomorrow, and for decades to come. Keith Lam is senior product manager, Epicor Software Corp.

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