Covid-19 disrupted the world economy and the way people did business. Along with healthcare, retail pharmacies too were put to test during this difficult period and played a big role in keeping the healthcare system in motion when it was extremely burdened amidst the pandemic.
In fact, CVS labeled 2021 as the Year of the Pharmacist and the report predicts that pharmacists will continue to be the most frequent health care touchpoint in the coming year after their major role in the COVID-19 pandemic.
While pharmacies were still just testing the online markets, with the pandemic accelerating eCommerce demand, a lot of them had to take the plunge into these untested waters in the last years. Digital retail pharmacies quickly gained momentum as many countries mandated curfews and the fear of the virus kept people confined to their homes – coaxing them to turn to eCommerce to fulfill their requirements.
As the digital landscape keeps evolving, a digital transformation in the retail pharma sector is already underway. According to Arizton’s latest research report, the Europe e-pharmacy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.59% and will reach $50.84 billion in 2027 from $19.23 billion in 2021. Below are some of the trends that are picking up in the pharmacy industry:
A recent CVS report observed that people have become more open to sharing their concerns with pharmacists and taking their medical opinions on a lot of health issues. The report also predicts that pharmacists will be the most frequented touchpoint for people and will continue to play a major role in the healthcare ecosystem. This makes it crucial for the pharmacy sector to evolve along with the expectations of today’s netizens and be prepared to serve them in the best possible way.
Today’s patients, like any customers, are highly demanding and like in every other experience, expect better services from the pharma sector as well. They rely heavily on online content for ailments and health-related queries and turn to the pharmacy and healthcare sectors for the same. For digital pharmacies, where the competition is already intensifying, this is a great opportunity to reach patients with high-quality content and services. They need to offer quick and reliable support through accurate information, fast delivery, and good customer service to better convert today’s online information seekers and digital customers.
Pharmacies can no longer rely on brick-and-mortar presence alone. As retail goes digital, pharmacies need to step up as well and pivot to a digital or an Omni channel presence to cater to the evolving customer needs and expand their reach. With seamless and easy options to start your online journey with platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce and with multiple tools to improve distribution and merge online and in-store inventory, retail pharmacies need to think beyond offline presence and step into the ‘new-age’ retail by adopting digital tools and up and coming retail technologies.
As discussed earlier in this article, digital pharmacies are picking up fast, and to thrive in the online retail sector, they need to leverage data to their advantage. They need to be competitive and offer the best prices, assortment, content, and experience to their target audience to be able to thrive in the new normal.
Patients, while buying their pharmaceuticals online, have vast information at their disposal and are bound to use it to get better deals for the products they are looking for. In the age of comparison shopping, you cannot dictate prices based on intuition or a hunch. You need to have visibility into your competitor’s price movements, track their pricing strategy, and take advantage of the gaps left by them. With machine learning-powered product matching and price monitoring solutions, you can identify and compare against exact products sold by your competitors with 99% accuracy. You can make accurate pricing decisions based on current and historical pricing analyses of competitive products.
Although pricing forms the foundation for any successful business, to be able to convert shoppers you also need to display the right assortments at the right time. You need to forecast demand to be able to maintain optimum inventory levels and not run out of stock or overstock any products. And for this you need data. From consumer data, and historical data, to competitor data, the more insights you get into the market and the demand, the better you can plan your assortments and product availability based on data analysis.
A good pricing software goes beyond tracking competitor prices for you. It helps you draw insights from the available data and suggests calculated recommendations and smart prices that will convert shoppers and improve product level margins. It tells you when to reduce prices and when to increase them. It enables you to improve your margins while increasing your conversion rate by optimizing prices at the right time. You don’t have to resort to deep discounts in order to offer competitive prices. You instead need to leverage a rule-based dynamic pricing strategy that helps you optimize prices in real-time.
If customers cannot find your products easily online, chances are they will turn to your competitors.
Studies suggest that more than 80% of consumers don’t click past the first page of search results. Your product visibility and search result rankings hence become crucial to getting found by your customers and improving your conversion rate.
With digital analytics, you can track your online performance, improve your content and optimize for ranking keywords, enrich your listing with the right images and attributes, and improve your digital shelf rankings.
Digital transformation has swept the retail sector and retail pharmacies are no exception. With new players entering the market and existing eCommerce giants branching into digital pharma, the future of e-pharmacies looks promising, as long as pharmacies arm themselves with the right technology. In the race to win customers in the post-pandemic new normal, data and analytics will play key roles in driving market share, customer experience, and profitability.
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