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5 retail operations tech trends you need to keep an eye on

Gerry Spitzner
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While many pharmacists only encounter or look for trends once a year, it’s clear that trends don’t begin or end at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Advanced technologies are driving the disruptive innovations that will bring significant and permanent change to Canada’s business landscape.

 

By Gerry Spitzner

 

Watch out. Speed matters! The world is not only moving fast, it is accelerating. Disruption is not going to happen in some distant future. It’s happening now. With one in three Canadian companies unprepared for disruption – and a mere 13%* considered highly prepared for it (* Deloitte Future of Canada series) – there is reason for concern over our ability to compete and our overall economic and societal well-being in a connected world of healthcare consumers.

The power of context. It’s no longer only about the screen, device, platform, or the physical store. Does your pharmacy’s mobile experience match where it’s being used (i.e. on the bus, watching TV, at the coffee shop or in your store)?

Canada’s ‘outdated’ payments system poised for overhaul. Canada is set to overhaul the way financial transactions are processed as changing technology and globalization reshape the way we move money and access our funds.  Payments Canada is set to roll out a five-year plan to update Canada’s payment processing system for both risk reduction and faster payments. New ways of connecting with POS software and technology to collect payment through smart phones, biometrics, eye and thumb scan are here or on the near horizon.

Consider these factors when upgrading or implementing new payment systems in your store to make sure your merchant services card terminals have the tap feature. If you already have an NFC-enabled “tap to pay” terminal, you’ll be able to accept Apple Pay and Google Wallet now. Apple Pay adds function in security; iPhone needs to read a fingerprint for a tap transaction to process. And if you are selling online or considering delivering patient services virtually there are reports Apple is getting ready to add its payment services to e-commerce websites, too.

Update or get a website.  Today, more and more consumers use the internet to search for the products or services they need. According to recent Salesforce Research, 82% of consumers* research products or services online before going into a store (* based on those who shop in stores). Your pharmacy will gain credibility by having a website. Without one, potential customers will go to your competitors who do. If you already have a website but it is “home-made,” having it professionally redesigned will provide your business with a professional image that will inspire even greater confidence. Websites are relatively inexpensive to create today and incredibly cost-effective marketing for patient services.

Get your Google in order. The increased visibility Google has placed around Google Local listing results on mobile has meant that Google My Business is essential for local SEO. It’s free to set up and will enable you to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services. Edit your Google My Business listing to ensure your business information on Google is accurate and up to date. Keep your business listing’s information current and change your address, hours, contact info, and photos to help potential customers find you and learn more about your business.  If you haven’t already, add or claim your business, then verify your listing so it’s eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services.

Whether profound change comes from these trends, technologies, or some combination yet to be conceived, their incredible disruptive potential will illustrate the importance of being prepared.

Gerry Spitzner is the founder and principal consultant of pharmacySOS.ca, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy providing strategic operations services focused on drug stores and pharmacies. For more information: http://pharmacysos.ca/