Each year, online sales continue to grow across many sectors, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. According to Fortune Business Insights, in 2018, the global e-pharmacy market size was valued at $49,727.7 million and is set to reach $177,794.9 million by 2026, indicating a CAGR of 17.3% between 2019-2026.
Currently, the age demographic most likely to purchase medication online is 35-44, with 26% of individuals in Great Britain having done so in 2019. With this kind of purchasing behaviour becoming more popular, the online pharma industry is set to grow in the coming years, and it’s time to ensure your brand is prepared.
Why Do Consumers Purchase Medication Online?
As the rise of online pharmacies continues, here are some of the main reasons why consumers opt to purchase medication online:
Rather than travelling to the pharmacy and not knowing whether a specific product will be in stock, buying medicine online means packages can be delivered straight to the customer’s door – and through the letterbox, if nobody is home.
There can be a stigma attached to purchasing certain kinds of medication, which means consumers don’t always feel comfortable buying in-store at the pharmacy. Buying online removes these kinds of anxieties.
With certain medications, consumers like to carry out online research first, read reviews and purchase once they’ve made an informed decision. When there is an option to purchase the product online, it creates a seamless customer buying journey and takes away the need to travel to the local pharmacy.
How E-Commerce Can Benefit Pharmaceutical Brands
Delving into the online industry and getting on board with the latest e-commerce trends has many advantages for pharma brands – here are the main ones:
Pharma brands invest in R&D, which leads to a ten year patent on newly introduced medicines. After ten years, the active ingredients of those medicines are no longer protected, allowing other producers to manufacture replica products at a fraction of the price. Brands who introduce new medications often build their reputation around a specific medicine (e.g. Viagra, Nurofen), so, even after the patent expires their ‘top of mind’ status remains. However, consumers are presented with cheaper options when they visit their local pharmacy, which causes brands to lose market share and customer loyalty.
Hatch’s Where to Buy Online solution aids brand awareness by enabling a direct conversion on specific products through retailer sites. Consumers are led directly to their preferred retailer and straight through the checkout process, without seeing any competitor products. This solution enables brands to set up or combine direct and indirect channels and make sure their products are available wherever the consumers are.
Brands with e-pharmacies now have access to more information about stock levels and product demand. With Hatch’s reporting dashboard, brands can obtain insights into customer purchasing behaviour, and use this data to determine how much stock they require and ensure they do not over or under-produce certain medications.
Easier Distribution/Lower Warehouse Costs
With the introduction of e-commerce in the pharmaceuticals industry, brands no longer need to pay for warehouses in every region to stock high quantities of products for offline pharmacy distribution. Instead, brands can now produce products in one location and dispatch items directly to customers, or work from larger central distribution centres, which can massively cut down warehouse and shipping costs.
How to Grow your E-Commerce Channel in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Varied Purchasing Options
While many consumers prefer to shop online, they also want to make sure they are purchasing from a trusted retailer. By offering customers a variety of purchasing options through their website (including well-known online and local retailers), pharma brands can enhance their customer buying journey and gain customer loyalty.
Data shows that 88% of consumers carry out research online before making a purchase, which highlights the importance of quality content – especially in the pharmaceuticals industry. Consumers often go online to read reviews of medications before purchasing, or to understand their prescription medications better. Pharma brands that provide detailed, legitimate information about medications will position themselves as trustworthy, reliable companies.
Chatbots are becoming more popular on e-commerce sites, and, according to Ubisend, 35% of consumers want to see more companies using chatbots. Consumers today expect everything in an instant, and an increasing number of businesses are beginning to offer 24/7 support through chatbots and virtual assistants. Integrating intuitive technology into chatbots, like Hatch’s Where to Buy solution, can provide greater assistance to consumers, even outside of business hours.
As the online pharmaceuticals industry continues to grow, we need to ensure consumers are purchasing legitimate, quality products from trusted online retailers, and pharma brands can help lead the way. By introducing technologies like Hatch’s Where to Buy Online and Local solutions, brands can enhance the e-commerce offering in the pharmaceuticals industry and allow consumers to shop for medicine online safely and conveniently.
For more information about any of Hatch’s services, and how Where to Buy has helped other industries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
We do not encourage readers to purchase any medication online without first consulting with their physician. When buying medication online, we recommend individuals follow the guidelines of the European Medicine Agency.