The pharma retail business is profoundly divided with more than 7 lakh retail locations the nation over and has seen critical development in the course of recent years, attributable to ideal segment factors and an epidemiological progress. According to the Pharmacy Retail in India 2019 report, this retail drug store market is projected to arrive at INR 2,330.2O Bn by 2024, extending at a CAGR of 10.08% during the 2019-2024. In any case, the pandemic has changed the way individuals live and there has been a change in choices, an expanding number of individuals are currently going to present day drug store retail outlets that have a wide scope of wellbeing items not only pharmaceutical drugs, as repeated by the report too.
This shift towards more coordinated business sectors has been long-really taking shape and a plenty of reasons have energized this shift.
1. Increased Awareness:
- The way to deal with wellbeing among Indians has seen a significant shift since the time the pandemic, there is an unmistakable pre-pandemic and post-pandemic stage, wherein in the pre-pandemic stage, the methodology was about Sickness followed by Diagnosis and Treatment. Nonetheless, in the post-pandemic stage, the methodology has moved to Preventive consideration. With this impact, that immunity boosting beverages, food sources and nutrients have seen a development of as high as 22% in March, 2021 according to the information by AIOCD AWACS.
- This expansion popular for better quality medical care and spotlight on wellbeing is currently without any help driving up the development of coordinated retail drug store in India. Twenty years back, the normal customer spending on medical care was 8%, today it is 25%. Customers are subsequently disposed towards items that can help their immunity, deal with their sugar, pulse and weight. Subsequently, the possibility of good wellbeing is moving towards health and it is certainly optimistic in nature. What’s more, thus, the drug stores expect to be drug supplier as well as become believed wellbeing accomplices and consultants.
2. Omnichannel/ Hyperlocal presence:
- E-pharmacies have made their way into the pharmaceutical segment with a boom and they are technological innovations that offer a patient the benefit of convenience ordering through easy-to-use apps. However, with the market and the customer pool becoming so diverse today, there is a need for pharmacies to offer and ace at all modes of service. This is known as omni-channel model wherein pharmacies should be adept at offering seamless experiences whether it is in-person, app/website, phone-delivery or any other mode of service. Along with adopting an omni-channel model, these retail pharmacies also need to focal for hyperlocal delivery points and create an ecosystem whereby they house and source all kinds of wellness products, this includes fresh fruits & veggie produce, organic & herbal items, and much more.
The way ahead for Wellness Forever:
- At about 150 pharmacies and approximately 3500, Gulshan Bakhtiani, Founder & Director of Wellness Forever Medicare Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, says, “We will continue to focus on growing on the role of the pharmacist in the community, utilize the best future technology be it in telecommunications, supply chain, cold chain management, warehousing, zero error facilities and lastly, we believe there is nothing that can replace the chemistry of the physical experience. Therefore, our people will be trained to humanely conduct with a patient as much as aspirationally conduct themselves with a person looking for a wellness need.
- The future of retail pharmacy is going to migrate from an online, or offline. There are two channels of doing business, and these two channels are very transitional. They are both running towards a way of doing business which is called ‘hyperlocal’ where you have a mix of physical experience, an app taking the order and a big web catalogue. This means something that I can’t offer you on my store will be available inside my store only on a web which means you are seeing an app sitting in my store, where a pharmacist is explaining to you what the product is and you are placing an order and the product is electronically processed and sent to you through my warehouse, which is typical web-store in-store. So, there is also going to be an in-store web-store that means when you are on my app and you press a button, a person sitting in a nearby chemist might pick up the phone and do their counselling.
The entry of big tech giants like Reliance, Tata Group and Amazon into E-pharmacies, echoes the point of creating an ecosystem for the patient or the consumer. Amazon is also eyeing a potential investment of $100 million in Apollo Pharmacy which will give it an access to Apollo’s 3700 front end pharmacy business for hyperlocal deliveries.
3. Playing the loyalty card:
- MedPlus, the second largest pharmacy chain with 1,400 outlets is targeting growth through the franchisee route. Another focus area is private label brands and the company also plans to distribute its in-house label via other retail outlets. The chain already has an omni channel presence allowing customers to place orders and purchase via multiple platforms.
- MedPlus is dominant in the South and East India. “We will continue to saturate these markets initially and then look for a pan India expansion. Currently 1,350 stores are company owned and rest, franchised. We have initiated franchising recently and this will be our main route of expansion henceforth and we are looking at adding another 2,000 stores in four-five years,” said Dr Surendra Mantena, chief operating officer of MedPlus Health Services.
4. Meeting the online threat:
- Rana Bawa, president of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide feels bigger organized pharmacy chains are better positioned to integrate offline and online business models. “The branded chains bring in a feel of modern retail and ethical marketing. The next golden opportunity could be sale of devices and implants,” he said. Bawa however sees little possibility of a massive expansion of branded chains. “There is no need gap which branded chains are addressing and hence I do not see an explosive growth.”
- Sriram Shrinivasan, partner and leader (emerging markets, life sciences) at EY, believes a third business model could emerge in India alongside chain stores and online pharmacies. This is the banner model which is prevalent in Australia. “Organizing retailers under a banner will help provide a consistent set of services, and leverage the power of many. Traditional shops can get benefits of scale while retaining entrepreneurial independence,” he said.
Zeno Health being your personal drugstore:
- Increasing demand for better and quality healthcare services also driving unorganized retail pharmacy sector to transform to an organized one. Whereas Organized pharmacy retail brings in computerized operations and effectively stock management a wider range of SKUs.
- Talking about Zeno Health it’s a perfect combination of both, right from being neighborhood store to private retail ambiance which enables customer to make a more effective choice while buying medicines. Recently we have set-up a 30,000 sq.ft. warehouse in Mumbai which has a range of more than 30,000 Generic & Branded SKU’s (stock keeping units). Our all 85 Zeno Health pharmacy retail outlets are enabled to provide value-added services like Free home delivery, computerizing prescription records, medicine exchange and refill/reminder services, and education on generic medicines through store assets along with special Zeno Care Dept. which focuses on adoption of healthy habits of customers. Our all 750+ employee team makes sure diagnostic services/lab test, self-diagnostic equipment, Covid Care, baby care products available at store along with right mix of branded and generic medicines.
- To serve people who were unable to visit our stores, we launched our Web, Mobile App and started dedicated call center and offering seamless omnichannel experience. Our Web and App service has a feature which allows customer to experience available generic medicine of the same molecule while searching for prescribed medicine in different price range.
Generic India adding a digital touch
“Generic India has connected all their retail store to Generic India mobile application. Customer can order online from Generic India mobile application & delivery takes from nearby Generic India retail shop only. This kind of hybrid retail model benefits both i.e. Customer & Retail shop owner”
- Gulshan Bakhtiani, 2020, 2021 Outlook For Retail Pharmacies In India, Businessworld
- Shahid Akhter, 2019, The future of retail pharmacy is going to be ‘hyperlocal’ biz model: Gulshan Bakhtiani, ETHealthWorld
- Aneesh Phadnis, 2017, Branded pharmacy chains pump up the volume, Business Standard
- Amazon all set to infuse $100 million in Apollo Pharmacy to take on RIL, Tata Group, 2020, ET Now Digital
(Author of the article Anjali Gajra is currently pursuing Pharmaceutical Management degree in Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author in his private capacity)