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Selling cosmeceuticals online

Dermatology TimesDermatology Times, March 2019 (Vol. 40, No. 3)
Volume 40
Issue 3

Dr. Missy Clifton shares best practices on launching and managing an online cosmeceutical store that is convenient for patients and keeps them coming back for more.


Dr. Missy Clifton offers several tips for online store success. (luliia - stock.adobe.com)

Online shopping is integral to customers’ overall positive experience, according to dermatologist Missy Clifton, M.D., of Premier Dermatology in Bentonville, Ark., who shared her best practices for launching an online marketplace in October at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.

“For many of our patients seeking a skincare regimen, we’ll begin with an in-office complimentary skin analysis. This allows us to customize an effective regimen that addresses their unique concerns,” Dr. Clifton says. “Once a regimen is established, our patients enjoy the convenience of being able shop online to reorder products or even enroll in auto-ship. By integrating loyalty programs - like Brilliant Distinctions - into our site, our patients are getting all the benefits of shopping in-office at their fingertips.”

But just like a good experience can keep clients coming back for more and keep the retail side of a practice running smoothly, a bad online experience can result in lost business, bad reviews and staff headaches. Dr. Clifton offers several tips for online store success.


First, find a reputable web developer to set up the platform. The goal is to create an integrated online store that office staff can easily update and manage, according to Dr. Clifton.

Online platforms that a third party manages, may require waiting days or weeks before being able to make updates for specials or promotions.

“That’s the key: to be able to make changes in real time, without having to get in touch with an account executive at a subscription-based store.” It may cost more upfront, but “You get to quickly and easily make changes yourself,” she says.


In a perfect world, a practice’s online store integrates with the practice management software. However due to personal health information, most practice management systems do not openly integrate with outside platforms. “When someone makes an online purchase, the order information is logged in our practice management software,” she says.

As a result, Dr. Clifton’s staff manually log order information about store purchases to their PM system, thus enabling the office to accurately track each patient’s experience and progress and make suitable product recommendations.

When Dr. Clifton’s staff receives an order, they process it immediately. Not only that, but they also put the order in a beautifully branded box with matching tissue paper, according to Dr. Clifton.

Orders go out the same day the order is received. Orders that come through on the weekends go out on Monday, she says.

In addition to product use sheets, “We also give them a couple of samples of products that might complement the products that they’re using. We look in their history to see what they’ve used and then give them samples of things that would be complementary that they haven’t used. We also tell them how to use the samples. Very often, people will try those samples and love them, and then they’ll come back to purchase those products the next time.”


Make sure that the online store’s setup makes it easy to go from shopping to payment, without too many click throughs.

“By custom designing a store, you get to determine how each click behaves for both the customer and staff...The fewer the clicks, the better. The better the integration with the practice as a whole, the better the integration with the rewards programs, the more successful you’ll be with the online store,” she says.

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