Get More Value from Your Pharmacy’s Website


Tom Wullstein knows that a website is an important marketing tool for a small business, especially for an independent pharmacy. But when he opened the Brandon Health Mart Pharmacy in South Dakota two years ago, he didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend, so he asked a friend to create a “bare-bones” site.

The site’s most useful element is prescription refills. Wullstein estimates that about 10% of his refill volume comes through online requests. It can be a bit cumbersome, he explains, because the website sends an email order that he then retrieves on his phone.

Building Your ‘Fan Base’ with Facebook

Wullstein also created a Facebook business page (click here to “like” his page) that includes photos, a map, and a click-through page detailing services, location, hours, and contact information. About two or three times a week, he posts messages about promotions, new products and links to useful health information.

Over time, Wullstein has developed a fan base of more than 700 customers — an impressive number for a pharmacy in a city with fewer than 10,000 residents. One strategy he is using to increase the size of the pharmacy’s audience is an inexpensive advertising program offered on the social-media site. That program allows him to purchase ads on users’ newsfeeds. He can restrict those ads to users in specific ZIP codes and to friends of friends, so he doesn’t end up paying for ads that aren’t useful to him.

Wullstein believes that Facebook is an amazing marketing tool for pharmacies. “It doesn’t cost anything to create a page,” he explains. “And if you spend just a small amount to promote your page, you’ll get great results.”

The key is to post messages that find the right balance between advertising and entertainment. Wullstein says that one of his most effective postings was a picture of himself wearing some cool shades, with an accompanying message that promoted a discount on sunglasses. The result: 160 people — the number of people who “liked” the photograph — learned about the special offer.

Perhaps the best part about Facebook is that Wullstein is able to place an icon on the Brandon Health Mart Pharmacy website that links directly to the store’s Facebook page. So the Facebook page becomes an inexpensive extension of the pharmacy’s website.

Turnkey Solutions for Independent Pharmacies

Of course, creating a website with all the “bells and whistles” — such as online and mobile refill capabilities — is still too time-consuming and expensive for many independent pharmacies. That’s why McKesson has developed a low-cost, easy-to-implement solutions. This alternative to “building it from scratch” allows independents to offer their patients the service and technology that customers have come to expect from today’s retailers.

  • Your Pharmacy Online is a “plug and play” website solution with online prescription-refill capabilities that is currently available to Health Mart pharmacies and will be available to other McKesson customers soon. Your Pharmacy Online allows pharmacy owners to easily set up a customized website with personal photos, promotions, social media links, and searchable drug and vitamin information. The site gives independent pharmacies a contemporary, professional, and individualized online presence — and offers patients the ability to request refills online! Importantly, refill orders can be automatically integrated into most pharmacy-management systems.

Tips for Website Effectiveness

Some helpful tips to maximize the impact of your store’s site include:

  • Put the spotlight on online refills. Make sure your order form links are “above the fold” — meaning that customers don’t have to scroll down to view them.
  • Always provide mapping and directions. Put your store’s street address, phone number and email address on every page (the header or footer is a great place). And always provide a map and written directions.
  • Engage in search engine optimization. Unless you operate in a market where potential customers all know your store’s location and what you sell, invest some time and energy in learning how to maximize listings on search engines. Click here to check out a great starter guide from Google.
  • Use pictures and video liberally. Photographs and video help personalize your store. And don’t shy away from posting homemade videos; a simple instructional video or testimonial will draw people in.
  • Promote the site in your store. One pharmacy owner installed a computer in the store so that people could register for an online account. Another handed out paper registration cards. And another created stickers with the web address that he placed on bags. Be creative and have fun!

A final tip involves sharing ideas with other pharmacists. “We all need to become each other’s fans [and to monitor each other’s websites],” suggests Wullstein.