The pharmaceutical industry is growing day by day, and the COVID disease has just accelerated its online direction of development. The past two years were very successful for selling medications, and pharma revenues were 1.27 trillion USD in 2020 and are expected to reach 1.77 trillion USD by 2026, as reported by Statista.
Top pharmacy eCommerce sites
The accelerated growth of the pharma business can be attributed to the eCommerce site’s greater involvement. The SimilarWeb service states the following pharmacy websites were engaged the most:
We’ve collected the best experience accumulated by best pharmacy eCommerce platforms to share the best online practices with you. Below is a step-by-step guide to launch a drug store online.
Are you ready to start your online pharmacy marketplace? We have some tips for you
You can sell over-the-counter drugs remotely, and in some cases, prescription drugs. The online sale of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, alcohol-containing drugs is still prohibited.
Step 0 Decide on what to sell
Online sale of prescription drugs
Selling prescription drugs online is challenged by the following fears that need to be resolved first:
- State regulation compliance
- Creating trust with online customers
- Validation of medicines offered for a purchase
- E-prescription acceptance functionality
The first two concerns can be resolved with the proper accreditation. NABP, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, can confirm the compliance of online drugs to national pharmacy standards. Having the NABP badge in your online store or marketplace, will make customers feel more secure against counterfeit pills.
Here, a subscription business model may help. It means that customers won’t place regular orders, but rather your team gets the requests from customers and selects the required medicine. To implement this on a standard platform, you need to remove the standard product catalog. The user journey will change: once registered, he or she submits the payment credentials and medical records (for instance, insurance number or physician details). As an online store owner, you need to control any reuse of the original prescription. You can integrate the e-prescription software to process the required documents directly from doctors.
PillPack is the website that uses this approach. You can take it as an example.
Online sale of over-the-counter drugs
Selling over-the-counter drugs is easier for online stores and marketplaces and you can launch your business on a standard eCommerce platform for effective product catalog management, promos, quick checkout, payment and order processing. There is no strict control over prescription legitimacy. However some precautions must be taken to avoid bad customer experience: and protect the health of your customers:
- Give a comprehensive description for a medicine you sell: indications and precautions, usage directions, possible side effects.
- Restrict the amount of medicine purchased per order.
- Quick delivery for small orders. Health is a priority: don’t make the sick wait too long. Make the shipping faster when it is possible. Don’t forget to notify your audience about such an opportunity. This is your competitive advantage. To get the idea, follow the Well.ca example.
Combined sale of prescription and over-the-counter medicine
If both product categories are involved in your online store assortment, then two separate scenarios must be taken into account. Take an example of HealthWarehouse, a company that went beyond prescription pharmacy and offered a full-fledged service with a variety of healthcare products.
Once decided on a product range, it’s time to start with an eCommerce solution fitting your pharmacy product and business needs.
Selling health consultancy
In our experience, there was a case where an online consultation service was required only on a pharmacy site.
Problem: to create an online physician service store.
- adding a new Physician user group with the ability for the administrator to verify data of the health practitioners.
- Checkout changes – adding additional step for appointment filling
- Customer profile changes – saving appointment form, ability of customer to check it and change
- Admin panel – ability for store administrator to change the appointment form template
- Ability for a patient to upload prescriptions and choose a doctor who can see the uploaded document
- Anamnesis form: a patient’s medical history that contains all information about the patient
- Health history section to store prescriptions
Want the same or have an idea to discuss?
Step 1. Launch your online pharmacy as fast as possible
An online platform for a pharmacy can be developed in a very short time on a ready-made eCommerce platform for online stores or marketplaces. Ready-made solutions will help to launch an MVP that can be scaled further in an iterative manner. You cannot wait for a long time – this niche is very attractive and the key industry players are trying to be the first to occupy this niche.
Things to consider while launching an online pharmacy:
- Maximize the assortment in the online pharmacy. The customer wants to buy all the necessary medicines in one place. If something is missing, you just pass a potential client to your competitor.
- Add an online chat with a pharmacist. This is a feature worth implementing on a site that has prices higher than the market average.
- Blocks with product analogues to allow customers to compare them on the page.
- Availability of usage instructions for drugs. A brief instruction may be placed in the product description, with the ability to upload the full version as a PDF file.
- CRM system with the ability to create a personal account for each user. This will allow not only tracking demand and regulating advertising and purchases in this regard, but also making timely individual offers to the client: for example, reminding them of running out of medicines that must be taken regularly.
- Notifications about the purchase of incompatible medicines and other features that will help the site visitor feel taken care of.
Tip: CS-Cart software has ready-made free templates for online stores and marketplaces. With little customization for pharmacy needs you can have everything working as described.
Step 2. Inform customers about the possibility to buy medicines online
When the site is ready, it must be promoted. Consider the nuances of promoting a pharmacy online:
- Online pharmacy sites are more often opened from mobile devices. Keep this in mind when developing a pharmacy site.
- Most visitors to these sites come from organic traffic. This means that you need to take care of optimizing your site so that search engines love it. On the other hand, you should consider all advertising restrictions on campaigns promoting drugs. Comply with your legislation before launching an ad. Maybe a good idea is to focus on healthcare products that are not subject to promotion restrictions.
- Don’t forget about your already existing offline audience: if you have a database of emails or their mobile numbers, notify them that medicines can be ordered at home.
- When setting up an audience, select the target audience wisely. Young girls should not stumble upon your ads for potency-enhancing drugs, and men should not see, for example, medicines for nursing mothers.
Step 3. Care about your customers
Make sure you have a convenient site where it is easy to order delivery or choose a pickup point to receive medicines. Sign a contract with a trusted courier service. Create an offer for fast delivery of drugs that customers want to receive as quickly as possible. Below are the most popular areas where fast medicine delivery is required:
The sooner customers get these medicines, the less they will worry about the price of such medicines.
Offer gifts for regular purchases, set up a reminder system that it’s time to buy medicines, offer free doctor or pharmacist consultations to regular customers.
Ready to open an online pharmacy and organize all workflows remotely? We can help with customization of the finished platform, hosting and add-ons.