Rise of e-pharmacies: The new normal in the logistics/D2C industry

Today, with essential items such as medicines being given top priority, e-pharmacies have become a staple customer for the logistics industry.

Over the past decade, ecommerce has grown exponentially along with the D2C segment. Today, almost everything can be ordered online, and the ecommerce sector is teeming with businesses from across verticals. Essential items such as medicines are no exception.

E-pharmacies have seen a major boom in recent years, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that led the world to turn to online shopping for all things, including groceries and medicines.

Typically, e-pharmacies require you to fill out your prescriptions online along with other details such as name, address, etc, to get the medicines delivered to your doorstep. Globally, the e-pharmacy market is valued at $69.7 billion approximately.

While India’s share in the global market is relatively small, it has been projected to increase at a CAGR of 18 percent to $18 billion by 2023. Particularly, over the past year, several pharmaceutical stores have introduced doorstep delivery of medicines.

This begs an all-important question – does this make physical stores redundant? The answer is no. Local chemist shops are now partnering with marketplaces or coming up with their own online stores to ensure medicines are delivered to customers promptly.

This is where the logistics industry comes into the picture. Today, with essential items such as medicines being given top priority, e-pharmacies have become a staple customer for the logistics industry.

Increased accessibility and wider reach

With e-pharmacies gaining rapid traction in the country, they have become a priority customer for logistics platforms, given the current scenario. Even during last year’s prolonged lockdowns that induced massive supply chain disruptions, mail-order medicine delivery was carried out by several logistics platforms.

Besides, with cutting-edge technology being incorporated into nearly every business, including the pharma industry, there has been a drastic improvement in accessibility and availability of medicines across the country.

Today’s logistics platforms understand that last-mile delivery acts as a touchstone between the end customer and the brand.

Embracing digital tools that enhance routing, scale deliveries, allow real-time updates of shipments, shrink delivery time, and optimise delivery costs, allowing logistics platforms and e-pharmacies to reach a wider audience and make the end-to-end process more efficient.

In turn, online medicine delivery helps expand and boost business without any additional investment that comes with the setting up of a physical store.

Temperature-specific supply chains

When it comes to medicine delivery, maintaining the right temperature for certain medications is vital. People often feel uncertain about e-pharmacies and mail-order drug delivery for this reason – they are unsure of how well the shipment will be handled.

To alleviate this issue, e-pharmacies are now tying up with cold storage warehouses that can store the medication at the right temperatures and logistics platforms that can ensure the shipment is handled carefully while maintaining the right temperature till the time it reaches the customer’s doorstep.

The growing popularity of e-pharmacies has majorly been driven by the pandemic that has facilitated an increased preference for online shopping of items across all categories. This in turn means that businesses need to be present and available to customers to ensure that doorstep deliveries are carried out efficiently.

Now comes the crucial part – choosing the right logistics partner. Leading logistics platforms now offer both traditional shipping and hyperlocal deliveries that e-pharmacies can opt for as per their convenience.

While standard delivery methods are most opted for, with logistics platforms introducing hyperlocal deliveries that help cover shorter distances, several e-pharmacies are now choosing hyperlocal options.

The combined working of logistics platforms and e-pharmacies along with a more robust value chain will ensure that the entire process and segment is efficient while paving the way for exponential growth.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)