Setting up an E-Pharmacy store is definitely a great startup option because you don’t need any special entrepreneurial skills and resources to build a flourishing business. The online pharmacy idea borders around providing a wide array of over-the-counter and non-prescription drugs to consumers.
It also involves filling medical forms and prescriptions and timely delivery of drugs to patients to make their lives a lot easier.
It’s surprising that distance-selling-pharmacy or online pharmacy shape remains an underexplored business till date. The premise is quite simple. It’s akin to any other ecommerce trade.
- You can classify online pharmacy store business models into two major categories. It depends on how you operate and earn money.
- The first type is where your online pharmacy shop has a huge inventory of medications.
- Your customer will first submit a proper prescription to purchase the medicines. The online store can confirm the item availability to enable the customer to make the concerned payment.
- You can then ship/deliver the medicines to your customer.
- The second type is where the store doesn’t stock the materials. These stores partner with local pharmacies and brick-and-mortar stores.
Startups are incorporating numerous changes and introducing different types of value additions. For instance, while e-pharmacies necessitate the submission of prescriptions online, you can physically collect the needful from the customer’s house.
In addition to value addition, your pharmacy can better assess the prescription’s authenticity.
Steps to follow
The first step is to plan your business as that’s critical for entrepreneurial success. It helps in underlining the business specifics and mapping out a few unknown things.
- Know the startup costs and ongoing expenses. Determine your target market and how much you can charge your customers. Your business name is also crucial here.
- Eric Dalius notes the involvement of multiple costs to open an online pharmacy. You need to purchase lots of medical insurance in the event of a liability claim.
- A pharmaceutical claim’s median cost is over $14,000. The numbers are likely to increase owing to the still unregulated and inconsistent online healthcare market.
- It’s mandatory for medical professionals to obtain state licenses for selling their prescriptions. The licensing costs will vary from one state to another.
- Startups also need to hire an attorney for ensuring that they’re complying with every rule and regulation.
- Finally, you need to account for the entire or wholesale price of prescription drugs. The rates will vary from one supplier to the other.
Your ongoing expenses include legal expenses, liability expenses, advertising costs, wholesale prescription costs, administrative costs, and employee salaries.
It’s important to note that online pharmacies make money by demarcating or marking up the drugs’ costs from wholesale. Charging people for speaking to on-site doctors or pharmacists is optional.
The operational process
In the first stage, the customer visits your web or mobile based app. The second one involves medicine search and analysis. The third one involves the uploaded doctor’s prescription. The fourth stage is payment and delivery.
- An inventory-driven operational process involves licensed pharmacy, mobile/web platform and customer service.
- A marketplace-driven operational process involves one to three pharmacies, marketplace digital platform, and customer service.
- A hybrid operational process brick-and-mortar stores, mobile platforms, and customer service.
- Eric J Dalius also presses on vendor tie-ups and logistics. Finding the best local pharmacies for supplying the products to your business is important.
- Affiliation with a shipping manager or logistics service provider is critical for a timely delivery.
In terms of technology structure, you have three definite parameters. These are e-commerce platforms, web hosting, and frontend and backend.
Know the revenue streams
Online pharmacies often include a featured section to display a range of sponsored listings from pharmaceutical firms. You can find them on the search results or/and the homepage.
- Online advertisements are a major source of revenue for e-pharmacies. You can get advertisers from sectors, such as Telecom companies, insurance companies, pharma companies, E-wallet firms, and diagnostic centers.
- There are recent cases of online pharmacies holding online contests for motivational movies, providing consumers with a chance to win film tickets, and a lifetime opportunity to meet the actors. It acts as an impetus for your customers.
- E-pharmacy businesses also thrive on commissions they get from selling health equipment and drugs.
- It’s undoubtedly the most common, assured, and popular revenue generation source, which most e-commerce portals follow.
- It’s a very simple model. The online pharmacy firm sells the product and the patient purchases it. The concerned ePharmacy platform generates revenue from this transaction.
If you’re wondering how the money is coming, remember it’s no rocket science. The online pharmacy pre defines a commission or percentage on each product you sell on the website. There could be various sellers or pharma companies. You can set the commission in compliance with the market movement and your business objectives.
If the online pharmacy player directly obtains the medicines from the pharmaceutical company, it can skip many steps in the supply chain management of pharmaceutical business. These include the retailer, the distributor, and the CFA.
The long-term impact
You can find numerous market players entering the D2C or direct-to-customer delivery model, where you directly sell products to customers. It reduces the dependency on third-party sources or intermediaries.
- D2C enables several players to evolve and continue their distribution channels. You can continue with direct customer deliveries.
- It’s a very consistent model for local retailers as it helps in increasing the pharmaceutical market coverage. It also allows a range of FMCG players to align their inventory and push it at the right stage. It helps in achieving a business scale with efficiency.
- With the procurement strategies and supply chain in the wake of the pandemic still evolving, their long-term impact on online pharmacy business is not yet clear.
There’s also a certain magnitude of disruption and change in the hyperlocal business operations. The introduction of hyperlocal concepts and its application have challenged popular businesses.
The main aim of this conceptual and new innovation is to make sure your customers have a memorable online shopping experience. Concisely, a customer places an order for the medicine he/she wishes to purchase, and your store passes the order details to the store in the customer’s vicinity.