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Why Pharmacies Need to Shift to E-commerce

Why Pharmacies Need To Shift To E Commerce

Amazon started as an online bookstore and has grown over the years to be the biggest e-commerce company in the world. Other big competitors from around the world like Alibaba have shown that it is possible to extend your business’s reach over the internet to great success and more and more of the middle and smaller players are starting to catch on.

From ordering luxury items online to having food delivered, we’re living in a world where the things we want or need are literally at our fingertips. We’ve reached a point of convenience where we can do all our shopping from our phones while we’re on the go doing other things.

One of the industries diving into this trend is the $460 billion dollar retail pharmacy industry. Here we discuss recent milestones in the adoption of the online pharmacy and try to look forward to the future for the industry.

Pre-COVID era

Before COVID online pharmacies were seen by the majority of people as a bit of a risky proposition. Most people preferred to go to a brick-and-mortar pharmacy where they could actually talk to a pharmacist and can actually see the medications that they are buying. While generally, a smart move to avoid buying bogus medication from unverified online sellers, the adoption of e-commerce for actual pharmacies was very slow. Aside from people’s fears, there was not much regulation in place to protect consumers and pharmacies.

But even though people were wary of getting medications online at the time, there was already a steady increase of interest in telemedicine, including telepharmacy services. Studies prior to COVID showed that as much as 71% of European internet users and 72% of American internet users searched for medical information online.

During COVID

That all changed in 2020 when the world got plunged into a global pandemic. People were told to stay at home and physical stores were forced to adapt or shut down. The pharmacy industry got the push it needed to adopt an e-commerce model. Though the initial stages of this shift were filled with uncertainty due to the lagging regulations and restrictions, eventually guidelines and checks were put in place and people became more empowered to get their medications online.

Though the other contributing factor to this is the general scarcity of medication at the time, it fast-tracked the development of the online pharmacy as a legitimate source of quality medical supplies. Telemedicine services were such a big part of the healthcare industry at the time that a survey showed that there was a 340% increase of telehealth services for people under Medicare during the pandemic. One-third of the recipients reported that they used telepharmacy services during COVID.


In a post-COVID world, people have more or less accepted that telemedicine services, including telepharmacy, are here to stay. And it’s not even limited to just the newer generations. In 2020, the American Association for Retired Persons reported that 53% of individuals over 50 have expressed interest in having their medical needs taken care of by a mix of health care professionals and technology.

Currently, the adopters of telepharmacy services can be categorized into two categories: Those who use it for convenience, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses and require more support in managing their medications.

Catering to these markets reveals opportunities for growth in the pharmacy industry. For example, expanding the role of pharmacists from just dispensing medication to including patient education, medication management, monitoring, and administration is a great way to lean into what people are currently enjoying with online pharmacies while also providing an opportunity for additional revenue streams.

The digital pharmacy sector is expected to grow at a compound annual growth of 17.3% in the next six to seven years. Putting your pharmacy on an e-commerce model can open up doors that will allow you to reach beyond your local area and will give you opportunities to explore other advanced services like same-day delivery or a subscription-based model of medication delivery.

Why you should take advantage of this opportunity

Whether you are considering taking your brick-and-mortar pharmacy into the e-commerce space, or if you’re an early adopter of the technology, it’s important to identify and capitalize on the opportunities and advantages not only to keep up with the competition but also to encourage more people to adopt this new way of receiving pharmacy services.

  • Convenience – as stated above, plenty of the current consumers of online pharmacies are attracted to them due to their convenience. The thought of not having to go to a physical store or having to take time off their day to get their prescription is a great incentive for customers.
  • Personalization – This is another opportunity to build trust and loyalty with your consumer base. Patients who have chronic illnesses or those who have multiple medications need help managing their medications and providing them easy access to a pharmacist who can help them with their dilemma can greatly incentivize them to come back for their next batch of medications. This easy access can also drive patients’ adherence to their prescriptions, ultimately lowering their risk for complications and lowering their medical costs.
  • Access and integration of technology – Digital pharmacies are more poised to take advantage of current and upcoming technologies that will help their business. Activity tracking and digital marketing will allow these pharmacies to receive and process plenty of data that can help them identify trends and better equip themselves for the needs of their customer base, as well as any gaps that they can fill to keep ahead of their competition.

These are just some of the advantages of moving to e-commerce for pharmacies. As more and more people rely on the digital landscape to fill their needs, multiple essential industries, including the pharmacy industry, will need to adapt and keep up.

Now that the pandemic has kickstarted the adoption of telepharmacy services, this trend will only continue to grow due to its convenience and greater accessibility. It’s time to take advantage of the technology and gear up for the future.

If you need help building your site or handling the digital marketing of your online business, don’t hesitate to reach out to Synergy Advantage! Call us at 1-855-534-6273 or fill out our contact form today!