Are you getting everything out of your online store that you could be? It can do more than give clients another place to shop online. When used effectively, it can be a time saver for your team, a revenue source for your practice, and an effective client retention tool. In a recent webinar with veterinary digital strategist Eric Garcia, practices heard insights and practical tips to better leverage their online store. If you missed “Strategies to Optimize Your Online Store,” sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, or want a refresher, check out these top 3 takeaways from the session. 1. Don’t assume, “If you build it, they will come.” Do you actively market your online store, or do you assume that those who want to purchase from you online will find it on their own? Many practices fall into the latter category. When pet owners have to seek out your online store, they are likely to shop elsewhere even if they would have preferred to shop with you. A recent study showed that only 16% of pet owners think their practice has an online store. How do we solve this problem? Actively market it! The fact is, most of us shop online and expect to be able to have products delivered to our homes. Your clients will appreciate that you offer this convenient option, so be sure they know about it. Make a plan. Not sure where to start or where you’ll find the time? Reach out to your Vetsource® Home Delivery account rep to understand what tools are already available to you and work together to make a realistic plan to market your online store. Make it easy for clients to find. Keep a prominent link to your online store in the header and footer of your practice website. Even better? Use an eye-catching graphic in the footer! Use “buy local” language. Use your marketing efforts to remind clients that when they choose to shop with you — whether online or in person — they are supporting a small business in their community. 2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Are you under-communicating with your clients? Most practices assume that isn’t the case, but many fall short of the recommended 9 to 12 touchpoints for effective client communications. You compete with many other messages, so repetition is key! It’s important to remember that the frequency of client communications goes beyond your online store. These critical touchpoints between visits greatly impact client retention as a whole. Send a weekly email. One initial email about your online store isn’t enough. Complimentary email marketing like PetMail® is a great option to keep your online store and your practice top of mind for clients. Worried once a week is too many emails? On average, pet owners receive 3.6 emails from Chewy per week! Share once a week on social media. Algorithms on social feeds mean that, more than likely, the majority of your clients aren’t seeing all of your posts. Share a new post weekly and, when possible, customize it about your online store in a way that is unique to your practice, like with a photo of your clinic cat. You can also try spending money on boosted posts to extend your reach. 3. Build your store into the client experience. Do you use your online store as a standalone, third-party offering? Or do you embed it throughout your clients’ experience with your practice? Making your online store a seamless part of your practice’s offering can enhance your clients’ experience and make it easier to choose to shop with you. From interactions with your team to receipts and refill reminders, there are many ways to incorporate your online store into your day-to-day operations. Get team buy-in. Help your team understand why your online store is important, how talking about it benefits clients, and how it works so they feel comfortable discussing it throughout the visit. Need help in this area? Your Home Delivery account representative can support you to get everyone on the same page. Be genuinely curious. Make it a standard practice to ask clients, “How do you get your medications?” and wait for an answer. Teach your team to feel comfortable with the silence and to not fill it with assumptions. This is an opportunity for your team to share information about your online store without being bothersome. Use the tools available to you. From your practice management software to the free solutions available through Vetsource, you have many options for reminding clients about your online store in a personalized and helpful way. Set up an automatic trigger to include a message in your departing instructions like “Don’t forget you can get your next refill of [product name] through our online store.” You can also use email recommendations through ScriptShare® to send an email before the client leaves your practice. Want more tips on how to optimize your online store presence? Your Vetsource and Boehringer Ingelheim representatives are there to help! Whether you need staff training, are looking for more personalized tips and strategies, or want to discuss signing up for email marketing through PetMail, reach out today.