Ecommerce has touched the lives of millions of people to such an extent that it accounts for $14 trillion annual sales globally. It is estimated that ecommerce is growing 10% annually and with this gigantic growth we are coming across new business models quite frequently.
One such unexplored business model is that of an online pharmacy store. It presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap into $30 billion industry, which is expected to grow and become a $55 billion industry by the year 2020.
Opening an online pharmacy store is difficult owing to laws associated with it. For instance, in India it comes with its own set of challenges and requires one to know about acts for selling prescription drugs online. To help entrepreneurs sell medicines online, we have prepared a list of essentials that an aspiring entrepreneur should know before venturing into opening an online pharmacy store in India.
The business model of an online pharmacy store revolves around making the life of consumers much easier by saving time. Otherwise, a person has to wait in queues to buy medicines.
An online pharmacy store offers different medicines/drugs based on the prescription provided to the user by a registered medical practitioner. One can also order for over-the-counter medicines.
Before setting out to open an online pharmacy store in any nation, you should first know the laws associated with it. Every country has a different law, for instance if you want to open such an online store in India then you must have the following:
Advertisements: Online advertisements displayed in various forms on pharma website are a big source of income to such stores. Usually brands selling medical supplies, blogs based on medicines try to get traffic from these platforms and put an ad there. Ads can be displayed on the online store, email newsletter, and more. In addition to this, the store owner can provide custom plans for advertisers, if they do not wish to enroll for advertisement networks like Google AdSense.
Sponsored Listing: There is a trend of adding a featured section to display sponsored results from pharmaceutical companies. The sponsored results can be listed on both, homepage and search results.
Profit Margin: The store owner can purchase medicines in bulk from pharmaceutical companies and keep margin between MRP and selling price. Margin can also be earned between the fee charged by medical practitioners and the online consultation fee charged by the store.
- Founded: 2010
- Funding: $50M by OrbiMed
- Founded: 2013
- Funding: $94M by Founder Collective, Atlas Venture, Accel Partners, CRV, and more
The registration process goes differently on different platforms. It varies based on the type of device being used for registering.
- Through Website: The visitor clicks on the sign-up button from the homepage, making the sign-up form appear. Optional information like Adhaar card details can also be asked. After entering other details like date of birth, password, user id, and more, the user can click on the sign-up button to finish the process of registration.
Also, at the end of the registration process, a newsletter signup options can also be provided to enable the user keep himself updated with latest offers.Medical practitioners and delivery boys can be added through separate login page.
- Through Smartphone: After downloading the app, the user can tap on the sign-up button. He can then fill the required details on the signup form and finish the process.
The homepage of an online pharmacy store should provide information, which is well-categorized and updated. To help the user find needed medicines with a minimum number of clicks is the main focus while designing the homepage.
Search feature takes the center stage on the homepage. It enables one to search medicines via name or the condition it cures. An upload button can also be placed next to the search button for uploading the prescription provided by the doctor. In addition to this, consultation button can also be provided near the search feature.
Online pharmacy stores can make use of doctor’s prescription by providing the feature to upload it. Using this, consumers can upload the prescription and the shop owner can manually pack the mentioned medicines in the same quantity as prescribed to the user.
Featured categories act as a quick way for people to find new medicines. Featured categories can house most selling product categories along with sponsored results.
This section is added to a medicine selling store to inform people about the ongoing offers as well as display information about future offers. It also helps in keeping the visitor engaged and motivates to come back to check for future offers.
Being slightly different from featured categories, product carousel offers those products, which are constantly in demand. This section enables one to select common products with minimum effort.
Important Links in Footer
The footer section contains links to web pages giving information about the company. In addition to this, it can also have important links enabling the user to access their profile, orders, shopping cart, and more. To make users come back to the store, it is important to inform them about the latest offers and for that, email signup widget can also be placed in the footer.
Since an online medical store houses many products, it becomes necessary to place all of them in their appropriate categories. This not only helps user in finding the product they need, but also helps the store owner with inventory management.
The shopping cart works like any other ecommerce store that can be viewed after selecting the products. All modifications to the order can be allowed in the last two steps of checkout.
Earning people’s trust is difficult for any business and majority of potential customers prefer to go through frequently asked questions to clear their doubts. If the store’s customer-care team faces a query multiple times, then it is a good to include that question in the FAQ section as well.
Enabling the user to know the status of an ordered product is an important part of customer satisfaction. To have a sound order tracking system provide a separate login for the delivery boy, and make sure he updates the delivery status as the order progresses towards its destination.
This is the page, which a user sees after logging into online pharmacy store. The user can find information about uploaded prescriptions, reviews, eWallet, notifications, and more.
Consultation section is a must to help people get better solutions to their medical problems. You can implement this by providing a registration/login area to doctors and other registered medical practitioners who are interested in offering online consultation. The consultation amount varies depending on the experience of the medical professional.
Usually on online pharmacy stores when a user clicks on consultation button present on the homepage, they are shown a list of available medical practitioners along with their fee. After going through reviews, the user can select a medical practitioner, which is most suitable for them and pay the fee using store’s payment gateway. The consultation can then take place using store’s own video conferencing feature.
The eWallet feature comes recommended from FATbit due to the improved level of convenience this feature brings in to the life of a consumer. Through this feature, the user can get refunds and other points from the store and use them as discounts for future buying.
National Identification or Medical Insurance details
Most of the medical insurance providers and governments give cover for medical expenses. It is not valid for every nation, but most countries like America, UK, India, and more provide cover for such expenses. To help deliver seamless service, the online pharmacy store can ask for unique identification codes (like SSN in US) or medical insurance details at the time of registration.
Ratings and Reviews
Ratings and reviews feature makes it easier for users to know the authenticity of medicines on the online pharmacy store. After purchasing medicine, people can leave review and rating to help other consumers and make an informed decision. Also, medical practitioners can be reviewed by users to help others.
Reward points serve as an excellent medium to keep the user coming back to the online pharmacy store. Points can be earned by referring friends to the store or by availing latest offers. The reward points can be availed as a discount on the next order by entering a code at the time of the checkout.
The ecommerce space is gradually filling as entrepreneurs try to implement new online business ideas. But the same is not true in the case of an online pharmacy store as it enjoys less competition and has a great demand.
Opening an online pharmacy website is the perfect example of a profitable online business idea in the times when entrepreneurs have embraced the ecommerce industry like never before. By implementing this business idea today, you can establish a user base, which can give your online pharmacy store a chance to stay ahead of the competition. But don’t let competition force you in taking a hasty decision. It is better to consult ecommerce experts and then implement your online pharmacy website to stay profitable. Have a look at the business model canvas below to get an holistic view of online pharmacy business.
Edited by: Shalini
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