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Study: Customers Prefer Brick & Mortar Pharmacy

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Satisfaction among Americans using mail-order pharmacies to fill their prescriptions continues to decline, falling significantly below satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study.

This year, overall satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies averages 792 on a 1,000-point scale, or 22 points below the average satisfaction score for brick-and-mortar pharmacies this year, and 14 points lower than in 2011.

In contrast, overall satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies has held steady year over year, with an average score of 814 in 2012, a slight decrease from 818 in 2011.

"The erosion in customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies may foretell challenges to their business model, as prior to 2011 customer satisfaction was more equivalent to the brick-and-mortar experience," said Rick Millard, senior director of the health care practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. "Acceptance of mail-order programs grew by offering customers convenience and lower costs. While this has been a successful approach, the mail-order business needs to continue to adapt to meet customers' increasing expectations."

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The study finds only a slight increase in the proportion of customers who are required to use mail ordering for repeat or maintenance prescriptions compared with 2011 (42% vs. 41%). However, overall satisfaction among customers who elect to use mail-order pharmacies is significantly higher than those who are required to use them.

Of customers who use in-store pharmacies, 37% said they are asked by the pharmacy staff if they want to speak with a pharmacist, a slight increase from 35% in 2011. Among the 23% of customers who do speak with a pharmacist in person, 61% also purchase other over-the-counter medications during their visit, compared with just 24% among those who do not speak with a pharmacist.

These respondents were most satisfied with the service offered at Publix in the supermarket segment followed by Wegmans and Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo. Sam’s Club was tops among mass merchandiser pharmacies, with Target and Costco placing second and third.

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