Veterinary professionals are well versed in weathering change. Whether it’s shifting revenue sources, new technologies, or changing competition and consolidation, there’s never been a shortage of ways that veterinary practices have needed to adapt — and this couldn’t have been more true in 2020.
Why Online, Why Now Whitepaper — Download the full report to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the economic trajectory of the veterinary services industry, including an in-depth look at practice visit, revenue, and e-commerce data.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 brought profound changes to everyone’s routines and daily activities, along with a blurring between personal and professional lives. It was a challenging year especially in the veterinary industry, which was already struggling with the emotional burden of a difficult but rewarding job and working on tight margins to keep their doors open.
But the industry proved to be as resilient as ever. Through smart thinking, creative solutions, and a lot of hard work, it has fared better than many. Practice revenue has rebounded, increasing 7.1% year-over-year. And thanks to the 11.4 million households who adopted a new pet during the pandemic, practice visits have nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
The veterinary industry prevails despite challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated trends that were already on the rise. Some of these — like an increase in pet ownership, the humanization of pets, and willingness to spend money to keep four-legged family members healthy — helped carry the industry through this time.
Others, like the desire for telehealth solutions, digital communications, and home delivery of products, went from “nice to have” to necessity and demanded changes to practice workflows and technologies. A look at the data in the Why Online, Why Now whitepaper illustrates just how significantly the pandemic impacted veterinary practices and how they adapted to overcome the challenges.
3 opportunities technology offers veterinary practices
Practices that leverage technology to embrace these changes — as well as adjust to shifting consumer behavior and deploy more convenient ways to visit and shop — will come out with a stronger business and client relationships. But where to start? Here are three tips veterinary practices can follow in 2021 and beyond to take advantage of these changes.
1: Provide more ways for clients to shop
Across industries, retailers and businesses have adapted to the way consumers want to purchase products. From the explosive growth of e-commerce as a whole to curbside pickup, more companies are finding success in providing multiple ways to shop.
According to Visual Capitalist, the U.S. market penetration predictions for e-commerce jumped from 22% pre-COVID to 34% post-COVID — marking 2020 as the year where e-commerce grabbed a much larger slice of the retail pie.
Veterinary practices can offer a unique experience for pet owners and compete in this space in a way that major players like Chewy and 1-800-PetMeds can’t — by providing their own online store as an extension of their in-person pharmacy and service offering.
By leveraging a home delivery provider like Vetsource, practices can easily implement an e-commerce solution that allows clients to shop from the practice 24/7. Clients can rest assured that they are purchasing products their veterinarian trusts and getting them in convenient ways at competitive market prices — whether they shop in your practice, online, or by phone
2: Create a seamless transition from in-clinic to at-home
The lines between in person and online continue to blur. Practices who bridge that gap by leveraging technology have a competitive advantage. The key is to offer integrated services that only a veterinary practice can provide — combining in-person or virtual visits with the product recommendation, prescription, order, and delivery process. By doing so, practices create a unique and convenient experience for their clients.
Look for solutions that allow you to quickly and simply do the work for your clients. Platforms like Vetsource® Home Delivery offer an ePrescribing tool that allows veterinarians to place a home delivery order for clients right from the exam room.
Also consider leveraging tools that put the control fully in the client’s hands, like emailing product recommendations after an appointment. With Vetsource’s ScriptShare® proactive prescribing tool, clients simply click on the product link within the email and are taken online to check out.
3: Improve digital communication and engagement
As more interactions move online, consumers’ desire to stay in contact with their favorite businesses through digital means has increased. In a recent report, email service provider Mailchimp noted that while companies sent emails less frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic, people actually wanted to be contacted more often. Clients are hungry for information, whether it comes in the form of a text message alert, newsletter, or email.
Leverage email services that do the work for you, like Vetsource’s PetMail® email marketing and refill reminder programs. These emails keep your practice top of mind and provide product discounts. Plus, reminder emails specifically target clients who have lapsed on purchasing their pet’s medication or food, ensuring patients get the treatment they need between visits.
Finding the right partner
By looking at the industry shifts outlined in the Why Online, Why Now whitepaper, it’s apparent that consumer desire for digital convenience and connectivity is here to stay. In the veterinary industry, that presents opportunities for those who are willing and able to adapt.