Having a robust point of sale system is a necessity if you run a pharmacy, regardless of the size. Many owners of mom-and-pop independent pharmacies believe that cash management is the only benefit to investing in a POS system. It’s a nice perk, but it’s hard to spend all your cash on a system that only improves your cash management.
While cash management is one of the most important services a POS system provides in most retail industries, in the pharmacy industry there are so many benefits beyond cash management that make it worth every penny. There has been a growing trend in congress for heavy supply chain regulations in the pharmacy industry. The recordkeeping requirements that this puts on the entire pharmacy industry, especially on independent pharmacies, can be an arduous burden. Most pharmacy POS software is designed to comply with those regulations and automate all of the reporting. Pharmacy point of sale software also helps manage inventory, so that less money is lost through ordering miscalculations. Additionally, a good POS system increases profits through auto refills and customer reminders, and creating individual customer accounts that improves the client’s experience.
Putting in a new POS system is an investment however, and it’s a tool that your pharmacy will rely on for years to come. It is critical to avoid these mistakes while shopping for and installing a new pharmacy POS system:
- MISTAKE: Installing a POS system without fixing your business processes.
The most common reason that POS systems aren’t used to their maximum potential is that the pharmacy has outdated practices that just don’t work with a modern POS system. You spend all the money on a POS system that follows the industries best practices, and can basically only use it as a glorified cash register.
Before even meeting with POS providers, take some time to document your business processes (ordering, receiving, inventory, etc.) and look for bottlenecks that you should fix before trying to find a POS that will have to work around it.
- MISTAKE: Not doing your research before choosing a POS provider.
You are going to be working closely with the company who provides your POS for a long time to come; even after your system becomes obsolete, the data transfer to a new system is far smoother and less expensive if you stay with the same provider. There is no amount of vetting that is too much. A few you things you need to consider before taking the plunge include:
- Years in business. Many new companies do not stand the test of time, leaving your POS system unsupported.
- Experience specifically in the pharmacy industry. Pharmacy POS is a very different beast than any other retail industry.
- Number of pharmacies similar to yours that use the same system. If you run a small apothecary, your POS needs will be far different than a major drugstore. You want to know the provider is used to your type of business.
- Customer experience. Ask for referrals for other similar pharmacies who use their system and ask about their satisfaction. It’s great if you can actually spend time at a pharmacy who uses the system and see it in action. Make sure they use the exact version you’re considering.
- MISTAKE: Customizing yourself into a corner.
Your POS system will be cheaper to install, easier and less expensive to support, and much easier to upgrade if your system is “plug and play” straight from the box. In fact, if you customize the software, there is no smooth data migration when it is time to move to a newer version. You’re basically stuck in an obsolete system. There are thousands of pharmacy POS vendors and software options, look for one closely aligns with your business without customizing.
- MISTAKE: Neglecting Training.
Most small business owners strive to reduce costs while increasing profits at all times. It’s hard to justify training costs when every dollar comes off the bottom line. However, the only way your new system will be worth the money is if you and your staff really understand it and all its features.
Do you have any other tips for pharmacies installing a new POS system? Please share them in the comment section below.