Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD has a very long list of patients who are anxiously awaiting for his office to reopen so they can visit him for their regular injectable treatments.
Until then, they’re going back to the basics: Communicating via telephone.
“Patients call into the office and have the option to have products drop-shipped to them directly from the warehouse,” he explains, citing one specific skin-care bonus of late: “Environ is offering a discount on all products that are drop-shipped directly from the warehouse and they also offer free shipping on orders that retail at $250 or above. It’s been hugely popular.”
While Dr. Hartman says his office hasn’t seen any particular trends he can pinpoint, he has seen a surge in patients who—quite simply—can’t be without their regular skincare the second they run out. “If patients want to pick up a product from the office, they can pay by credit card and we have the products ready for them to pick up at the curb right away.”
It’s that same-day, drive-up, social distancing–safe service that Coral Gables, FL dermatologist Dr. Janice Lima-Maribona’s patients also love.
“We’ve been offering free shipping and 15- or 20-percent off with curbside pickup,” she says. “Most patients are refilling their products and, due to the sale, they’re taking advantage of it.” Dr. Lima-Maribona also says her staff has been making recommendations—to which her patients are all ears.
“They’re asking for masks, eye creams, at-home peels or any weekly treatment,” she says. “If we have it and if we recommend it, they want it. Everyone has time now and everyone is looking to experiment—whether it’s a new food recipe or a new skin-care product.”
Similarly, Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD is offering curbside pickup, and admits that the one positive thing that quarantine has done for her practice is allowed the time to improve her online store, and it’s an update her patients have appreciated.
“Orders have always been accepted over the phone, but only while we have a staff member available. However, the online store is available 24/7!” she says. “The hours of our front desk staffs have been limited, so curbside pickup can only happen during the hour while they work. Patients drive up, text the staff that they are there, and we hand the pre-ordered items to them. Depending on where they live, we will do local delivery, too.”
Like Dr. Lima-Maribona, Dr. Lee is offering weekly sales on certain items, and she switches it up from week to week. “Most of our clientele have their favorites already, so they take advantage of the sales and stock up,” she says. “But, we have seen an increase mostly in peels and treatments for hyperpigmentation. I think it’s mainly because, right now, everyone is staying inside and avoiding the sun.”
Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD is doing something comparable—to the tune of the mask-on, six-feet-away, through-the-car-widow route.
“Patients can either call in to arrange a time, or we have a texting system where they can text in a time for pickup. When they arrive, we deliver the product through their car window, and we are fully gloved and masked. We can also set the products on the curb and the patient can then get out of their car for social-distancing purposes, all while we watch six-feet away.”
Even through the distance, he’s seeing some very particular selling themes: “It seems that patients are trying to do more at-home procedures like masking and light peeling, and Latisse has literally been flying out the door—we can’t keep it in stock.”
Dr. Werschler also recently ran a successful “Spa-Tini promotion,” where the office promoted different products based on skin type, coupled with a decidedly self-care, vacation-themed angle that included self-tanners and all-things tropical, like the new Nest Coconut and Palm candles.
“We’re trying to have fun with it all, but, at the end of the day, it seems patients are very interested in skincare right now because our sales have been very good.”
The Website Way
Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD is in a slightly different situation, mainly because he runs the LovelySkin.com website, where patients and consumers can click for purchase at any time, via two-to-three-day shipping. Nonetheless, he says, sometimes customers just need their products when they need them.
“Curbside pickup is very simple. We have always had the ability to pick up in our retail store in Omaha, even if purchased via our website, but this is simply a twist on that. Our customers enter in the order, pay for it and our sales associates bring it out to their car in a touchless presentation.”
Like a lot of other doctors, Dr. Schlessinger is currently seeing patients via telemedicine and, even though his physical office is closed, the touchless, curbside method (mixed with a self-care moment) is catching on.
“When life is so disrupted, it is reassuring for people to have rituals that help them to feel ‘normal’ again,” he says. “These rituals are often cleansing and restorative in nature. Additionally, we are seeing hair-care products—dyes, shears, curling items and shampoos—flying off the shelves! Women are unable to access their salons and need to get these important products and we are happy to be able to assist during this challenging time.”
While Louisville, KY plastic surgeon M. Bradley Calobrace, MD has a finely tuned curbside process where patients park in designated spaces and text when they arrive to pick up their products, he’s also seen a significant increase in online orders.
“Many of our patients just want to stay on their current skin-care routine. So, if they happen to run out during this time, we have heard from them. There have been several products that many patients have indicated that they just can’t live without, some examples being Latisse, TNS Recover Complex and HA5 by SkinMedica, BioSerum by NeoCutis, Daily Power Defense by ZO, Revision Papaya Cleanser and Skinade Collagen Drink.”
Beverly Hills dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD has also seen patients who, as she calls it, “are acutely aware of their skin issues, changes and observations of other general skin conditions, damages, concerns.” More specifically, she has been busy “writing prescriptions for blemishes, acne and chronic flare-ups and everything from folliculitis, ichthyosis, eczema and psoriasis, all while giving general advice for skin help.”
While the Rx route might remain the same, she does admit the process for treating the problem has gone through a bit of a modification this past month.
“Some [products] are sold by a limited microsite, which is newer for us. Medical brands who do not allow direct to consumer by e-commerce give us an embedded link to their microsite. The provider gives the patient the specific link to purchase directly with the embedded code so they know it was on a recommendation of a medical practitioner. Then, the brand will facilitate the pack and ship to the patient.”
As she outlines it, “one person from the staff has been at each of location [she has two locations in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills] has been going in for limited hours to handle sales two times a week and since shipping seems to be taking longer than usual during this time, some opt for curbside. The products are all wiped down, packed using gloves and a mask, bags sealed and labeled and the patient calls during curbside hours and it will be brought to them at the car.”
One surprising observation, Dr. Shamban says: Sunscreen purchases have seen a big uptick—even replacing retinol purchases in recent weeks—as have products targeted at helping stressed-out skin, peels and hydrating masks.
Pick a Card
Products bags line the table at Grand Rapids, MI plastic surgeon Bradley Bengtson, MD’s practice, and, when patients come to pick them up, they’re treated to a bonus.
“We communicated to our patients via emails and social media that we are here for them! Our patients call the office or send an email directly to us to place their orders. We package their products with a special thank-you note for supporting us during this time, some extra goodies to show them love and place their products on a little table outside our office in the lobby. When patients arrive, we remotely open the front doors, remind them we’re respecting the social-distancing rules, and they come into the lobby to pick up their package.”
Dr. Bengtson’s patients are also purchasing a lot of gift cards right now, and the office is offering a special bonus card when someone buys $100 in gift cards.
“Our top sellers for physician-grade products are ZO Skin Health and SkinBetter,” he says, tagging ZO Advanced Radical Night Repair At-Home Peel and the SkinBetter AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads in particular.
“Patients have been buying a lot of everything!”
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