The organised retail pharmacy space in India has been steadily growing in the past decade. According to business data platform, Statista, the organized pharmacy and wellness space across India is estimated to penetrate 13 percent of the retail market this year, indicating a growth from 11 percent in 2018. Retail pharmacies are essentially stores that provide branded and generic drugs along with a host of other pharmaceutical products all under one roof. These entities can be a single shop or be a part of a retail pharmacy chain. And although it was only individual entrepreneurs and pharmacists who had initially established these units, major corporations are now showing interest in this segment.
The pandemic has changed the way people live and this has led to definite shifts in consumer preferences. An increasing number of people are now turning to modern pharmacy retail outlets to buy their regular prescription drugs and other wellness products from organised pharmacy stores that offer the benefit of cleanliness, attractive displays, and a wide variety of products.
Below are some of the prominent trends that are visible in the retail pharmacy space:
Focus on Customer Care Support:
Pharmacists are expected to become more integral to the healthcare system and rather than simply dispensing medication, pharmacists will be paid for their cognitive skills. Building trust in a product takes time, hence, pharmacy outlets will move towards building vital linkages with their consumers through personal interaction and stellar services. There is a need for skilled pharmacists who will ensure that they help customers curate their healthcare products and focus on holistic wellness. This expansion of services will work towards helping customers receive the care they need and often cannot access. It will also help strengthen a brand’s connection to the local community that it serves.
Prevention is the Key:
The approach towards health among Indians has seen a marked shift ever since the pandemic; there is now a clear pre-pandemic and post-pandemic phase. Before the pandemic, the approach towards health was all about sickness, followed by diagnoses, and then treatment. However, the pandemic has made sure that people now sit up and take notice of preventive healthcare treatment. To this effect, immunity boosting drinks, foods, and vitamin products have become increasingly popular since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 has thus changed the definition of health to a predict-and-prevent model. This increase in demand for better quality healthcare and focus on wellness is now single-handedly driving up the growth of organised retail pharmacies in India. Consumers today are thus inclined to buy products that can help improve their immunity, manage their sugar, blood pressure, and body weight. Hence, along with prescription based drugs, retail pharmacies are increasingly offering consumers wellness products that help with their general wellbeing.
Infusion of Technology:
Retail pharmacies have started investing in Artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve service, cut costs, and optimize stock availability. The goal is to improve patient access to virtual care via mobile devices, using AI analytics to find the most efficient way to share medical information between patients, healthcare providers, and treatment centers. As consumers continue to prioritize their health and wellness, retail pharmacies can better their business by providing customers convenience, informed advice, and quality services that they’re looking for.
Omnichannel/ Hyperlocal Presence:
E-pharmacies have been making inroads into the market for the past few years. Essentially, they are technological innovations that offer a patient the benefit of convenience ordering through easy to use apps. However, with the market and 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 the omnichannel 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. An omnichannel model offers a much more holistic experience than compared to just an e-pharmacy or a local drugstore.
Launch of Speciality Drugs:
The advancement in the medical segment has led to the development of diagnostic tools to identify the cause and source of illness. With industry revenues shifting from traditional brand-name drugs to specialty drugs, pharmacies must strategically position themselves to handle an increasing number of these expensive products with unique clinical requirements as products get introduced into the marketplace. This is a booming market, and newer medications are expected to be launched in upcoming years.
Availability of the right drug at the right time can save lives and the organised pharmacy sector is capable of bringing about much needed change in terms of drug availability. It will also bring about more systematic computerised operations that will enable proper inventory management. Organised retailers can therefore effectively stock and manage a wider range of SKUs (similar kind units). The COVID-19 pandemic has made people realize that healthcare is a real priority and that the organised retail pharmacy spaces can take care of an individual’s holistic wellbeing along with medical needs.