In-office Inventory vs Online Supplement Dispensing: The Perfect Mix


Many practitioners are still unsure of what the best method is, to access professional supplements. Amongst the best options wholesale purchasing or online ordering are popular, as the practitioner has control of the prescriptions. The case of mixing both wholesale supplement purchasing and choosing a trusted online dispensary has not been taken into consideration, until now. This case study shows how one practitioner found the perfect mix of using both wholesale and online dispensing to optimize her practice.

Dr. Lucille, ND, RN was an extremely enthusiastic new graduate. After finishing her education, she was ready to set up her practice and apply her comprehensive integrative principles of medicine to help people. She chose products that were familiar, some that she even used as a student and in her residencies. As these orders went through and products started coming in, Dr. Lucille’s shelves were starting to fill up. Her patients walked out of the door with a plan to start their journey towards feeling better, and patient satisfaction was excellent. This ideal business model lasted for about a month – she calls this the honeymoon of her practice.

office table with stethoscope, notepad, glass of water, plant, keyboard, computer mouse, pen, and glasses

Dr. Lucille was ordering from more than one company, and being a sole practitioner, she was not ordering that much volume.

Practitioner Problems

A myriad of situations started to percolate, sending Dr. Lucille’s ideal business model in somewhat of a free fall. Surprisingly most of these situations had to do with the small physical dispensary she set up and was managing in-house.

Problem #1 – The cost of receiving endless small packages
Dr. Lucille was ordering from more than one company, and being a sole practitioner, she was not ordering that much volume. Her method was to order a product only once a patient needed it. This method created a lot of work – placing the order, checking for distributor authorization, tracking the product, and trips to the post office for pick up. It also meant she had to pay for shipping and risk delays.

Problem #2 – The constant struggle for shelf space
Bulky powders, while important for cleansing and meal supplementation for certain disorders, were simply too large to fit on the shelf. Adding more storage space wasn’t a feasible solution to Dr. Lucille’s small clinic.

Problem #3 – The overhead associated with carrying inventory
As Dr. Lucille’s preference for products grew, she was looking to have some high priced, very effective items in stock. She was wary of buying the products upfront and risking the products expiring before she had a patient that needed them.

Problem #4 – Adherence falls apart in the refill phase
Dr. Lucille’s patients were more than willing to go out of their way for an appointment, but when it was time to refill their supplements they valued convenience above all else. Shopping online or at the closest retailer was less disruptive to their already hectic lives, so that’s what they did.

This resulted in patients purchasing products that were similar but not exactly aligned with Dr. Lucille’s recommendations. At times, Dr. Lucille’s patients even ended up with products that were counterfeit, expired, or incorrectly stored. She knew she needed to fix this very alarming issue.

The Perfect Dispensing Mix

Dr. Lucille found the solution she was looking for in a strategy that she calls “The Perfect Dispensing Mix”. The steps include:

Step #1 – Partner with a wholesale distributor for select in-office inventory
Natural Partners, a wholesale distributor, allowed Dr. Lucille the freedom to order the products she needed most frequently, all in one place through one order, and since she was ordering multiple products at once, shipping was usually free.

Step #2 – Develop a list of essentials to carry in-office
Dr. Lucille developed a list of items she was going to order frequently or needed to have on hand for acute care. these were the essentials she would keep in office and order wholesale. For everything else, she turned to online dispensing.

Step #3 – Find a tool for online dispensing
Fullscript is Dr. Lucille’s preferred online dispensary. It has truly streamlined and automated Dr. Lucille’s practice and solved many of the dispensary issues she encountered.

Dr. Lucille has identified the following benefits of using Fullscript:

  • Fullscript is easy to set up and customize
  • Online ordering is the most convenient way for patients to shop
  • Refill reminders and auto-ship improve patient adherence
  • Shelf space is saved and she eliminated unnecessary costs
Dr Holly Lucille

Fullscript is Dr. Lucille’s preferred online dispensary.

Even though the margins are different than buying wholesale, using an online dispensary like Fullscript has paid off for Dr. Lucille’s practice. Her costs are lower and her sales are higher! Dr. Lucille has also experienced time-saving opportunities with her strategy and can spend more time focusing on her patients.

Her list of must-have in-office essentials:
ACUTE CARE:

  • Calendula Cream/ Ointment for burns
  • Elderberry for cold/flu prevention
  • Homeopathic Arsenicum 200c for food poisoning
  • Arnica 200c for post surgery/acute sore muscles
  • Glutamine and demulcents for GERD
  • Glycine for sleep
  • Silver and all-purpose salves for cuts/scrapes
  • Electrolyte powder for dehydration or fever
  • Quercetin for mast cell stabilization in allergies
  • Post-antibiotic/travelers diarrhea probiotics
  • Sun rescue cream for sunburns
  • Magnesium for headaches

Items she only dispenses online:
HIGH PRICE:

  • High dose absorbable curcumin

BULKY:

  • Protein Powder
  • Meal replacement for SIBO patients
  • Medical foods for hyperpermeability (leaky gut)

SPECIFIC STORAGE REQUIREMENTS:

  • Non-shelf stable Probiotics

ABOUT DR. LUCILLE

Dr. Holly Lucille, ND, RN, is a nationally recognized and licensed practicing naturopathic doctor, educator, author, natural products consultant, and television and radio host.

An acclaimed expert in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Lucille lectures throughout the nation on a variety of natural health topics. She is also a health blogger for Newsmax online magazine, is the vice chair of the Institute of Natural Medicine and is on the editorial advisory board of Alternative Medicine, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Advances in Mind -Body Medicine and Natural Practitioner.

Dr. Lucille is a graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. She received the prestigious Daphne Blayden Award for her “commitment to naturopathic medicine, academic excellence, compassion, perseverance, a loving sense of humor and a positive, supportive outlook,” and has also been awarded the “SCNM Legacy Award” for her “contribution to the advancement and development of the field of naturopathic medicine.”