The Shifting Paradigm of Medicine Retail in India

Ever since the pandemic hit us, the best thing for us to do has been to sit on a chair and get things done from home itself. There was a tectonic shift in the way people perceived life.

According to a recent study, the Indian economy has fallen by 23.9% due to this pandemic. While there has been a lot of visible negative changes due to this, there’s one sector that has seen incredible positive impacts and that is healthcare.

Medicine Delivery pre-Covid-19 era

There has always been a market for medicine delivery in the Indian ecosystem. With mobile applications and websites easing the way for visibility and buying, this has become a lucrative business model. Many aggregators have taken advantage of the existing delivery channels to push their online medicine delivery service.

  • Easy Buying: Earlier people used to prefer brick-and-mortar stores for traditional buying of medicines using a doctor’s prescription but with the advancement of technology, people can easily go online, select the medicine & the quantity, avail a discount, and get things delivered at home.
  • Unique Pricing Models: With technology came innovation, and this led to aggregators & businesses coming up with subscription models, dosage exhaustion reminders, etc. This helped a person remember about their stocks going empty and the need to refill it. These things kept them hooked to the applications. Discounts were one more incentive to buy online, and not venture to stores offline!
  • Door-to-door Delivery: With the rise of Swiggy, Zomato and other ecommerce platforms, the concept of delivering goods at your door steps has taken off! Online pharmacy industry was no exception, and it helped people meet their medicinal needs with a click of a button. It also became popular amongst people with elderly parents, and thus, a lot of brands started venturing out into this space.

Opportunities during the Pandemic

With cities going into lockdown, and people not being allowed to leave their home, the online medicine delivery model suddenly was on fire. The government has ensured that medical supplies will have better accessibility and easier passage through the roads. Local stores were allowed to be kept open, still, people were scared to leave their houses. Hence, the following changes were seen:

  • Adoption of Online Delivery by Traditional Stores: Traditional stores came up with online promotions to capture some online customers, and started accepting orders over call along with doorstep delivery. Some of the stores started their own mobile application and website for buying medicines.
  • Various delivery models are coming up: Usually, most of the companies work on cloud-based infrastructure and they have storage units, where the stock is kept and dispatched from. There are other models that came into existence during this period – like the aggregator model, which was more of a partnership on the forum which helped them to connect the old stores online.

Where is this industry going?

With the Covid-19 scare slowly going away, the citizens have adopted the stay-at-home approach, and prefer to get everything delivered at the doorstep! A recent study showed that the e-pharmacy industry is expected to grow into a $ 3 billion industry by 2024.

The factors influencing the same are:

  • People are becoming cautious of Chronic Diseases: Diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, etc. are widely prevalent in India. After the pandemic, people do not want to take anything for granted. Thus, the medical supply orders have increased more as people are stocking medicines for longer periods.
  • Online Doctor’s consultation: With doctor consultation happening over the screens, the online prescriptions have made it possible for people to try out these platforms and the services are not failing them. There is also a feature where medicines can be ordered directly post consultation.
  • Practices followed by these pharmacies: The lesser touch-points and well-sanitized delivery model has ensured that people will keep on buying from the e-pharmacies. This has helped in a lot of revenue generation for these companies. The mobile applications have also worked in the favour of these brands as marketing has become easier.

Thus, it can be said that medical retail through online media has come as a ready blessing in disguise. The advancement in technology will open newer doors, just like what PharmEasy is doing to pivot their business model to an internet health company.

This has led to investments coming in swiftly for the e-pharmacy industry, as the companies are now trying to improve the supply chain!

Article by Born Realist