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Online Pharmacy vs. Traditional Pharmacy: The Truth Uncovered

The convenience of clicking to get your prescriptions versus the personalised service of a local pharmacist – the debate is more relevant now than ever. In the rapidly evolving world of healthcare, the battleground for customer satisfaction has extended beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar establishments into the digital realm. 

At Staffino, where we focus on enhancing pharmacy customer experience and maximising ROCX (Return on Customer Experience), we’ve delved into a compelling comparison that’s on the minds of many leading pharmacy retailers: traditional versus online pharmacy. What do pharmacy customers truly prefer in this digital age? 

Join us as we dive deep into this comparison. Are traditional pharmacies holding their ground, or is the ease of online shopping becoming the preferred choice? Let’s find out together.

A Comprehensive CX Pharmacy Survey: Understanding Pharmacy Customer Experience

In our exploration, we’ve gathered insights and feedback from a wide range of pharmacy customers. Our research survey was designed to shed light on the nuances of customer satisfaction, buying behaviour, and preferences within the pharmacy shopping experience.

A woman filling in a market research survey.

Here’s a snapshot of our pharmacy customer survey by the numbers:

  • Sample size: We gathered insights from 2,939 customers, providing a robust dataset for our analysis.
  • Response rate: Achieving a click rate of 22.16%, the survey saw a healthy engagement rate of 19.39%.
  • Customers approached: In total, 15,355 customers were invited to share their experiences and thoughts.
  • Survey duration: Conducted in March 2022, the survey spanned over a month’s period to ensure ample response time.
  • Sample choice: It’s important to note that the participants of this survey were not randomly selected. Instead, they represent a group of customers who have voluntarily opted-in to participate in CX research. This ensures that the insights gathered come from engaged and informed customers, most of whom have previously been approached for CX surveys conducted by Staffino for its clients.

While this survey was specifically tailored for the Slovak market, it’s crucial to understand that the insights and trends identified can have broader implications. Moreover, Staffino is fully equipped and eager to conduct similar market-specific research across different regions. If you’re looking to understand the pharmacy customer experience in your market, our CX consulting team is ready to provide the insights you need to elevate your customer satisfaction and drive your business forward.

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E-Pharmacy vs Conventional Pharmacy: Survey Results

A graph showing how many people prefer online pharmacies to conventional pharmacies.

It is clear that the convenience of online shopping has extended to the realm of healthcare, with a notable portion of customers exploring e-pharmacies for their medical purchases. According to our survey, two-fifths of customers now also buy medicines online, indicating a significant shift towards digital platforms for healthcare needs.

Graph explaining how many people prefer to shop in e-pharmacy.

Among those who have ventured into the world of e-pharmacies, a majority find the experience preferable. The survey revealed that 55% of customers who have tried buying medicines online either prefer online shopping or regularly buy their medicines through digital channels. This preference underscores the appeal of e-pharmacies, combining convenience and accessibility with the ability to reduce wait times in pharmacies.

Proportion of customers buying medicine online vs. in physical pharmacies.

The future looks promising for e-pharmacies, with a considerable portion of the market still untapped. The survey indicates that 25% of customers who currently do not purchase medicines online have at least experimented with the idea in the past. Meanwhile, 43% of customers have yet to explore this digital avenue, suggesting a significant potential for market growth as e-pharmacies continue to evolve and enhance their offerings.

A graph with reasons why customers prefer online pharmacies.

When it comes to choosing an e-pharmacy, customers prioritise a range of factors, with price and delivery emerging as the most critical considerations. A quarter of customers cite the price of medicines as the primary reason for their purchase decision, highlighting the importance of competitive pricing in attracting and retaining customers.

Delivery options and speed also play a crucial role in the decision-making process. Specifically, 22% of customers emphasise the importance of delivery options, while 14% prioritise delivery speed, underscoring the demand for flexible and prompt delivery services.

Not to be overlooked, product selection is a key factor for 18% of customers. The availability of a wide range of products ensures that customers can find all their healthcare needs in one place, further enhancing the appeal of e-pharmacies.

We can see that the shift towards e-pharmacies reflects a broader trend of digital adoption across various sectors, including healthcare. As customers increasingly value convenience, competitive pricing, and prompt delivery, e-pharmacies are poised for growth.

Graph with reasons why people prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar pharmacies.

However, 30% of customers identified the pharmacist’s approach and expertise as the most important factor in deciding where to make a purchase.

Nearly a third of those who shop at conventional pharmacies are very unlikely to switch to an e-pharmacy, as they highly value the human touch.



Expert CX Consultant, Staffino

While the survey results underscore the potential for e-pharmacies to expand their reach and influence in the healthcare market, it appears that online and conventional pharmacies currently have an equal share of the market. For traditional pharmacies, adapting to the digital shift and exploring hybrid models may be key to staying relevant in the evolving healthcare landscape. Nonetheless, the significance of human customer service cannot be overlooked, indicating that brick-and-mortar pharmacies are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Why Pharma Patient Journey Matters

Pharmacy customer loyalty and repeat purchases, as well as a deep understanding of customer preferences and behaviours, are key to a successful pharmacy business. If the pharmacy has a pharmacy loyalty program in place, it can use it, for example, to send personalised satisfaction surveys after each purchase, which enables a deeper understanding of the pharmacy’s strengths and weaknesses.

This picture shows a part of Staffino's pharmacy satisfaction survey with 2 questions and some graphs around it.

Pharmacies that utilise a pharmacy customer feedback tool and align their products and services with customer expectations are better positioned to thrive in a competitive landscape. Our survey not only highlights the current state of customer experience in the pharmacy sector but also underscores the importance of continuous CX feedback, customer journey mapping, and adaptation.

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Pharma Experience: Looking Ahead

In conclusion, the survey highlights the growing impact of e-pharmacies yet reveals that they share the market equally with traditional pharmacies at present. For brick-and-mortar pharmacies to remain competitive, adopting digital strategies and hybrid models is essential. However, the enduring value of pharma customer service suggests that physical pharmacies will continue to play a crucial role in healthcare for the time being. 

As we continue to explore the pharma experience, our goal remains to empower pharmacy chains with the insights needed to create exceptional customer experiences. For those interested in diving deeper into the specifics of the Slovak market or seeking to conduct similar research in other regions, Staffino stands ready as your partner in unlocking the full potential of your pharma patient journey.

Reach out to us, and let’s redefine CX excellence in the pharmacy sector together.

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