As a pharmaceutical manufacturer or distributor growing your brand online is vital. In fact, eCommerce has never been more popular or more important for a business. But why is e-commerce so necessary, how do you make sure that it’s effective and how do you get started? In this article, we’ll explore all of this and more.
Why do you need eCommerce for your pharma brand?
eCommerce is growing in popularity every day for all industries—and for the pharmaceutical industry, this couldn’t be more true. The current size of the online pharmacy market is valued around $50 million, and it’s projected to reach upwards of $170 million in the next few years. Currently, online prescription orders account for about 25% of pharmaceuticals sold in the United States—and that number grows every day.
What’s the benefit of eCommerce for consumers?
The age group that’s most likely to purchase medication online is 35 to 44-year-olds. This demographic is busy with spouses, kids, pets, jobs, friends, family and recreational activities. As a result, they choose to purchase many products, including medication online. In addition, older demographics are increasingly more comfortable with technology and thus more interested in buying medication online too. This popularity is increasing for the following reasons.
Convenience: For many people, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get to a local pharmacy. That’s why they rely on the quick push of a button on their phone or computer to order their medication. It’s quick and simple.
Less exposure: Older demographics are more likely to seek out ways to reduce their exposure to sickness, especially now during the COVID-19 outbreak. Ordering their medication online—instead of going to the store—is a much safer option for them.
Auto-ship: Having medications on auto-ship takes having to remember out of the equation. It’s automatic, it’s one less thing to worry about and people are way less likely to miss their important meds.
Privacy: Buying medication online eliminates the embarrassment that can come from purchasing certain meds in person.
What’s the benefit of eCommerce for you?
When selling pharmaceuticals, there are countless benefits of having everything available online for your business. Here are just a few.
Data, analytics and metrics: When customers purchase medication online, you now have access to some of their personal information. Over time, this data can be compiled so that you can learn more about each customer and your overall customer base. For example, analytics can show each customer’s purchasing behaviors, demographics and more. Companies can then use this digital data to improve their marketing, stock their shelves more effectively and better engage with customers.
Less competition: When people visit a pharmacy, there are lots of options on the shelf—and many of them may have the same active ingredient as your product but can also be less expensive. This can cause your brand to lose market share. However, by selling online, there’s less blatant competition at the time of purchase.
Lower shipping costs: When companies can produce medication in one single location and then send it directly to consumers—instead of paying for multiple regional warehouses to stock the products—the shipping costs become exponentially lower.
Build Relationship with the Customer: For manufacturers and distributors, having an eCommerce presence allows you to eliminate steps in the distribution process, each of which carries a cost.
How can you ensure that your company is ready for e-commerce?
As a pharmaceutical manufacturer, distributor or retailer, it’s important to jump on the eCommerce bandwagon sooner rather than later. If you’re only selling vitamins and supplements, this is a relatively simple process. Just list your products online and allow people to buy them directly from your website.
However, if you sell prescription products, things are more involved. You’ll need to be sure that you’ve built a verification functionality into your site and have a process for authenticating all purchases.
No matter what type of pharmaceuticals you’re selling, it’s crucial that you have all product information readily available on your website. Nutrition facts, labels and any other pertinent information need to be obvious and easy to follow. This will help keep you out of hot water in terms of the many legalities of pharma.
How should you get started in the e-commerce world?
You might be reading this and now know about the importance of eCommerce—but what if you have no online webstore? Don’t panic.
The first step to take is to develop a website that’s eCommerce friendly. There are many platforms from which to choose (and we can help you with this). Once you have your e-commerce website up and running, you have to figure out how to get people there! This is done by focusing on solid SEO practices and creating social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), as well as ongoing email campaigns. These tactics will make people more aware of your brand and get them more engaged with what you offer.
With more and more people needing the convenience, safety and privacy that online pharma can provide, it’s no wonder that e-commerce sales increase every day. And when pharma companies know how to effectively sell online, they’ll reap the benefits for years to come.