It is abundantly clear to anyone who has been paying attention that the retail environment has changed dramatically in the last few years due to the rise of e-commerce and the democratization of information at customers’ fingertips thanks to the internet. The pharmacy space is no exception. What’s unique to the pharmacy industry is that patients are also customers, and they often shop in the pharmacy department as well as the “front-of-store” (the non-pharmacy retail sections). Combine this unique situation with the increase in data generated due to the growth of ecommerce and mobile transactions, and what emerges is opportunity. In light of the changing retail environment, pharmacy business professionals should be asking themselves how data can help them better meet the needs of patient-customers – and ultimately drive incremental revenue. Outlined below are two ways to do this.
Use data to embrace patients as customers and vice versa
The patients who come into the pharmacy for medication often make purchases in the front-of-store section of the store. Sometimes, though, these patients don’t find what they need and end up going elsewhere to supplement their pharmacy purchases. And with technology today making it easier than ever for customers to find what they’re looking for, either online or at other brick-and-mortar locations, it’s hard for any one retailer to capture all sales. But why let a sale go to a competitor if it can be avoided? If pharmacies can leverage the data they have to figure out what front-of-store products complement a patient’s pharmacy purchases, they can create targeted marketing and promotional programs.
With the right data analytics solution, peering into the shopping basket can yield rich insights about product affinities, price sensitivity and other nuggets that can inform a valuable category management strategy across the full store. Say, for example, a certain cluster of patients comes into the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions on a regular basis but only occasionally purchase cosmetics from the front-of-store. Looking further at the data, it turns out this particular cosmetics brand is a twice-a-year in-and-out item on promotion. These initial findings might suggest increasing the number of times this brand should be brought in on a promotional basis. But what if digging even further into the patient/customer data uncovers that these shoppers are in fact very loyal to this particular cosmetics brand and buy it monthly at other retailers? Bringing the item in more frequently and serving coupons might not be the most revenue-maximizing solution. Instead, the pharmacy retailer could use the insights from the blended, cross-department data to carry this particular cosmetics brand on a permanent basis. The category manager might find that basket size and trips increase overall once that cosmetics brand is slotted in as a regular item. Ensuring the right strategy based on insights derived from actual purchase patterns across the pharmacy department layered with front-of-store might be what makes the difference between customers picking up front-of-store products in the same store or turning to their smartphones to find them elsewhere.
This kind of data blending and basket analysis is something that can be done easily in a data-analytical environment that is HIPAA-compliant. Pharmacies can start viewing patients as customers and vice versa by conducting a more advanced analysis of patients’ purchases in front-of-store while having peace of mind that all patient privacy regulations are being followed.
Use external data to inform a fuller picture of customer behavior
Understanding patients’ purchase patterns in the front-of-store is key to developing the right promotions and category management strategies to capture their non-pharmacy purchases. But there’s another place where pharmacy businesses can look to get an even more complete picture of their patients’ shopping behaviors: outside of their stores.
With external data sets, triggers and patterns emerge that can help pharmacies stock up on the right products at the right time to capture the right demand. For example, 1010data conducted an analysis that found weather to be a great predictor of future customer demand for antihistamines. Intuitively, it seems logical that when temperatures are high and humidity is low, sales of antihistamines will go up concurrently. But it may not be so obvious that when temperatures are high, sales of antihistamines go up 30 days later. And when humidity is low, sales of antihistamines also increase 30 days later. With information like this, pharmacies can plan ahead to not only be well stocked with antihistamine inventory four weeks in advance, but to also promote any pharmacy-related programs to better meet the need of patient-customers.
With the ability to map out pharmacy patients to their corresponding behavior as customers in front-of-store, pharmacy businesses can make better use of available data to ensure they are seeing and meeting their full needs right in their stores. Even more useful is the ability to layer internal sales and customer data with external information about customer demographics or even seemingly unrelated phenomenon like the weather. The bottom line is that data, used in the right way to generate insights, can be leveraged by pharmacies to drive their business in incremental ways. With a technology solution that is flexible, built for ad hoc analysis, and capable of handling large volumes of data, mapping patient data to customer data to external data becomes an easy and scalable activity that generates immediate growth for pharmacy businesses.
To learn more about how 1010data can help your pharmacy business start seeing your patient and customer as one by bringing together pharmacy and front-of-store data, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.