Jun 24 2021

Patients Continue to Prefer Independent Pharmacies Over Chains

Late last  year, when Amazon formally announced the launch of its Amazon Pharmacy online store, many media reports were quick to predict a significant impact on independent and community pharmacies. But if research about consumer attitudes holds true, it would seem local pharmacies have a clear advantage when it comes to issues that matter most.

"The fact is, we're all going to have to evaluate whether we shouldn't be buying our pharmaceuticals from Amazon," CNBC analyst Jim Cramer said in reporting on Amazon's announcement. "We have to," he added, "that's the way America is." Similarly, a Washington Post headline declared "Amazon's attack on the pharmacy industry has begun," while Investopedia noted, "Amazon's Challenge to Pharmacies Worries Markets."

However, media coverage may have been different had consumers been asked for their opinions.

Consider the findings from Consumer Reports' most recent survey of more than 78,000 consumers about their pharmacy preferences. The research concluded: "Overall, people still prefer 'mom and pop' pharmacies more than big chains. Independents still are at the top pf the ratings chart for overall satisfaction and earn top scores for the pharmacist's knowledge, the accuracy of filled prescription orders, and the pharmacy's customer service, including courtesy, helpfulness, and speed of checkout and filling prescriptions."

A quick review of survey findings reveals the following:

  • More than half of people said their independent pharmacist knew their name.
  • Only 3 percent said they "waited a long time" for service at an independent pharmacy, compared with 18 percent of chain store shoppers.
  • While 21 percent reported that a drug they needed had been out-of-stock, independents were more likely to go out of their way to fill the prescription the same day.
  • 41 percent said independent pharmacies prioritized filling prescriptions faster.
  • 21 percent of independent pharmacy customers – versus 9 percent of chain store customers – said the pharmacist suggested a lower-price medication option.

In addition, patients spoke highly of the multitude of services offered by community pharmacists including vaccinations, health and wellness programs, and personalized services such as individualized packaging, specialty medications, and compounding.

Community pharmacists clearly have customer support as they struggle to operate in today's increasingly competitive and decreasingly profitable environment.

They also have the support of companies like Micro Merchant Systems (MMS) which continues to work hand-in-hand with pharmacists to develop the ideal technology solutions for current pharmacy needs. The MMS PrimeRx™ system is designed to facilitate and automate pharmacy workflows so that pharmacy staff can stay focused on what they do best – providing the stellar customer service that patients expect and larger entities can never replicate.