Six savvy questions to launch a successful online veterinary pharmacy


A flash roundtable Q&A where VHMA members answer your top questions about creating an online pharmacy.

Practice managers Tara Adams, Stephanie Mieras and Terry O'Neill answer some of the burning questions about making online pharmacies pay off with profitability and high-quality client service.

Tara Adams1. What's the best way to handle pricing for online items?

Try to do things on a sliding scale-the more expensive an item, the smaller the markup. An item that is $20 might have a markup of 200 percent, but an item that is $40 might have a markup of 150 percent.

2. How does a practice compete with large pet pharmacies? Is it realistic to think that a practice can compete?

First, the practice should get to know what products other pharmacies are providing and what they are charging. It may not be possible to compete with all of the big boys out there, but it certainly is possible to be competitive with some of them. If a client asks for an online prescription to a big pet pharmacy and you offer the same item at a lower cost, be sure to let the client know.

3. How can my practice charge less for items sold in an online store than it did with items sold in the practice?

Stephanie MierasOnce the practice moves to online sales, it no longer has the overhead associated with in-practice items, including order time and stocking, counting, tracking and labeling inventory.

4. What do we do about the big pet pharmacies whose price we can't beat?

It's vital to inform your clients. For example, you should share your concern that big discount companies may be getting their pharmaceuticals from unknown sources with clients.

5. We just got another request for a script to a big online pharmacy…help!

We require clients to pick up a written prescription for an online pharmacy. We do not FAX prescriptions to online pharmacies because we can't ensure the quality of the products available at other online sites and do not want to associate our practice with these sites.

Terry O'Neill 6. How can I sell the practice's online pharmacy to our clients?

Cover these three major points:

> Competitive Prices: We price our products between (fill in number) percent of competitors. We also offer (list additional incentives).

> Availability: Our team members are available to resolve any issues related to the product. Because it's been recommended by our practice veterinarian, we stand by all products and will help to resolve any issue related to that product.

> Manufacturer backing: Products offered at our online pharmacy are purchased directly through the manufacturer and are subject to all guarantees offered by that manufacturer. For example, if you purchase heartworm preventives from our online pharmacy and your pet develops heartworm disease or other internal parasites, the manufacturer may cover all or a portion of the costs associated with the treatment of your pet. These guarantees are not valid for products purchased from other sources. 

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