Nestled in the small town of Stanley, North Dakota, the Dakota Drug Company has proudly served the area’s 5,000 or so residents for over 100 years. Current owner and pharmacist Terry Dick purchased Dakota Drug in 2009. After spending 15 years working at a chain pharmacy, Mr. Dick realized that owning an independent pharmacy in a small town was his true calling.
Dakota Drug takes tradition very seriously. In fact, the pharmacy’s on-site, old fashioned fountain shop, Whirl-A-Whip Ice Cream, has put smiles on the faces of locals since the 1940s. But Mr. Dick realized that tradition should not come at the expense of progress. With no website and only a company Facebook page, Dakota Drug needed new digital tools to enhance customer engagement, and to meet the changing demands of customers. This was especially important since the next closest pharmacy is located over 40 miles away. Dakota Drug is truly the only game in town, so it needs to meet the needs of all the residents who rely upon its services.
Back in 2015, Mr. Dick began rolling out changes designed to bring his business into the digital age. He launched a Dakota Drug mobile app that allows customers to submit prescription requests and refill their prescriptions, as well as set reminders to take medications and supplements. The app was ideal for the pharmacy’s customers. Many of them work in the local oil fields and have long hours and erratic schedules, so it is not always feasible for them to drop their prescriptions off, or call the prescriptions in, during normal business hours. The app allows customers to fill prescriptions at their convenience, right from their phone, regardless of whether the store is open.
To spread the word about the new app, Dakota Drug printed simple bag stuffers. They also placed an ipad at the register, where customers could fill out a quick form with their phone number and receive the app download link instantly. Mr. Dick estimates that about ⅓ of his customers now refill using the mobile app. This year alone, the pharmacy’s monthly refills through the mobile app have increased about 35% since January.
Another important piece of Dakota Drug’s digital strategy was the creation of the company’s new website, which was specifically designed with a searchable medication database. Customers are able to visit Dakota Drug’s website 24/7 to gain helpful information they can access (such as correct dosage, possible side effects and what the medication looks like) without visiting the store or calling during business hours. They can also download valuable coupons to save on medication costs, and can submit prescription refill requests online.
A few years ago, Mr. Dick partnered with six other pharmacists to purchase Crosby Drug, located about an hour and a half away from Stanley in the town of Crosby, North Dakota. The pharmacists’ sole purpose was to prevent neighboring Divide County from losing its only pharmacy, which was in danger of closing. Mr. Dick, through his personal experience at Dakota Drug, was incredibly impressed by the results he was seeing through his new digital tools. Soon he and his partners rolled out a similar program at Crosby Drug, allowing that pharmacy’s customers to likewise request refills and interact with the store via a customized app and website.
Melding state-of-the-art digital tools with old fashioned, small-town values is what sets our pharmacy partners apart. We couldn’t be happier that we are helping Mr. Dick meet the needs of small town South Dakota residents by providing efficient, effective tools that streamline the work process, and allow customers to refill prescriptions at their convenience.