In the world of online veterinary pharmacies, there are two kinds of companies out there—the interlopers up in your business (you know, like 1-800-PetMeds and the corner-store pharmacy chain that now sells vet drugs, WTH?) and two bigger players in your corner: Vetsource and Vets First Choice (which calls itself a "comprehensive prescription management platform"). So if your veterinary hospital needs an online pharmacy (you do, champ) and you want to shop around or finally try one, satisfied veterinarians swear by both of these. Here's a head-to-head comparison based on Vets First Choice and Vetsource rep answers to questions on what I'd look for in an online pharmacy:
But … what does the online pharmacy cost the practice? Here's what their reps told me. Remember, check out what fee the pharmacy will charge you at your practice for common—and expensive—products if fee structure is a big consideration for you:
• Vets First Choice: The company doesn't charge a setup fee for starting the pharmacy, and there aren't monthly fees for maintaining it. The fee on transactions through the platform is 26 percent of the retail price. That fee is fixed—meaning if the practice chooses to increase prices above suggested retail, those fees don’t change and the additional profit goes straight to the practice's bottom line.
Additional benefits include free shipping for your clients on all items as well as pet food, if the diet is set to auto-ship; instant rebates; monthly and on-demand reporting; client marketing; and Vets First Choice-funded coupons that don't affect the practice profit and equate to a 1 to 3 percent net effective reduction in the service fee.
• Vetsource: There are no setup costs or monthly fees to use the service. In general, the company charges a 15 percent fulfillment fee based on wholesale price for most products and then a pharmacy fee when appropriate. Exceptions are low-cost items and heavy items like pet food (where the shipping costs are significant). Fees are fixed.
Additional benefits include free shipping for your clients on 1) pet food, 2) items set up to auto-ship and 3) orders more than $49; funded promotions that don’t impact the practice’s margins; and automated email marketing.
Last but not least, ask around with colleagues you trust about how these options are working for them. This is what company reps told us—your mileage may vary.