With so many brick and mortar stores closing last year due to the pandemic, online shopping has become even more popular, and basically essential—especially in the pharmaceutical and supplements world. This has meant vast changes in the way pharma eCommerce websites must operate; a lot of nice-to-haves are quickly becoming essential. Pharma retailers are finding they have to either stay up-to-date on the ever-changing world of eCommerce, or fall behind. 

We’ve been monitoring the market closely and observed some key trends in pharma eCommerce becoming increasingly prominent. Read on for what to expect in the pharma industry in 2021.

Quick, Inexpensive Order Fulfillment is Key

A growing number of people are abandoning their cart as they shop online. Two of the main reasons for this are high shipping costs and long shipping times. People don’t want to spend much on shipping, and they want their orders yesterday (thanks Amazon for both of these). If they have their cart full but then the shipping charge comes up as way more than they were anticipating and/or they won’t receive their order for a while, they abandon their cart and move on to the next site that promises products in a quicker, cheaper way.

To combat this problem, make sure—if you can—that your pharma/supplement company’s shipping costs are low (or free after a certain amount) and that your shipping times are short. It’s usually worth it to make your products a little bit more expensive, by building in some of your shipping costs, if it means keeping the customer’s shipping costs low. In the long run, it’s also usually worth it for your company to take a bit of a hit if it means getting your customers their products more quickly.

If you have a physical building and an eCommerce website, it may be worth it to tap into the new trend of BOPIS, or Buy Online, Pick up In Store. Customers like this option because even though they still need to go to a brick and mortar store, they don’t need to spend time shopping around, as their order is exactly what they requested and it’s already waiting for them when they arrive. If your company doesn’t have a physical location, consider partnering with companies that do have one and also cater to BOPIS customers, such as Kohls.

Pop-up Shops Are Popular for a Reason

With eCommerce on the rise and in-store sales on the decline, in-person pop-up shops may not sound like a great idea. However, over the past few years, eCommerce retailers have learned that pop-up shops do very well. Their unique physical presence helps spread awareness of your company to a new audience.

When picking a spot for your pharma/supplements pop-up shop, choose wisely. Where does your target audience hang out? Where does your brand fit in? Think about cities, towns and then physical locations. The most common places for pop-up shops are vacant storefronts and kiosks in shopping malls. Setting up shop at a farmer’s market is also a good idea for a pharmaceutical audience. When you catch your customers in the right place, you’ll get their attention—and their business.

A Shoppable Instagram Is Essential

One new perk of Instagram for eCommerce retailers is that this platform can now be used to sell products directly. The key here is to have an active Instagram page and then to tag any products you feature. If a post resonates with your customers, they can simply click the photo to see more information and then buy your products in just a few clicks, right from the Instagram app.

Another good, relevant strategy is to partner with influencers who share your company’s vision and can create and share shoppable content for your pharma brand. At InteractOne, we know the value of a great influencer. Read some of our recent blog posts about the rise and power of nano influencers and social media tactics proven to increase traffic to your webstore.

Subscription Services Satisfy Everyone

Year after year, the demand for subscription services only increases, and that’s because they’re a win-win for both customers and merchants.

For customers, they know exactly what they’re getting and when they’re getting it. Their beloved products are delivered regularly as scheduled and always just as expected. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

For merchants, having customers enrolled in a subscription service allows the companies to better forecast what’s needed and thus have better management of their inventory. Plus, it’s much better for a company to have a lot of dedicated customers that are loyal to the company week after week, month after month, than to have a handful of one-off customers who order once and then forget to return.

Drone Delivery Is Here to Stay

In 2020 drone delivery became a mainstream reality, with an estimated three million operational drones in the air. With the ever-present desire for convenience, coupled with extended periods of social distancing, drone deliveries are predicted to become even more popular in 2021.

The benefit of drone delivery for eCommerce retailers is that most packages can be delivered within 30 minutes. That makes for a lot of happy customers! Plus, drone delivery can save companies millions of dollars in shipping costs.

The drone industry really took off in 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) streamlined the registration process for companies. However, there still hasn’t been a pharmaceutical company that has fully integrated drones into their operations. With the need to protect patient safety being so important, most pharma companies are hesitant to take the leap just yet. However, as drone delivery companies continue to learn and grow, it’s just a matter of time before pharma companies jump on the bandwagon.

Automated Marketing Driven by Artificial Intelligence

Many businesses are already utilizing Artificial Intelligence in their marketing, and those that continue to do so will keep winning big. That’s because artificial intelligence helps businesses qualify leads faster and more accurately, and helps them show visitors more appropriate content. By delivering a progressive sequence of questions in automated chat conversations, businesses can quickly identify customers’ needs and then sort them into specific personas based on these needs. The AI then shows the customer relevant content that meets those needs. This reduces demand on human customer service, and assists visitors quickly and efficiently. It’s another win-win for businesses and customers, saving everyone time.

Video Content is Vital

Much has been said about video and its huge effect across all industries, but its influence is only growing. As more websites incorporate video content, it only proves to be more powerful and popular with consumers. The more compelling your content, the more likely you are to attract and retain customers.

The possibilities with video are as wide-ranging as your imagination. In the past year we’ve seen everything from short explainers on products and services, to full-blown series of videos like the Mayo Clinic Minutes, which offers general health and wellness tips.

Businesses that engage in social listening and pay close attention to what their audiences are searching for, and that then cater to those needs with easily digestible video content, will be the winners in 2021 and beyond.


These are just seven of the key evolving trends we’re seeing in the pharma/supplements eCommerce space. Want to find out more, and take advantage of these trends? InteractOne can help your pharma or supplement business stay ahead of the curve and increase sales. Contact us today for more.

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