If you have had an idea to start up a reliable online pharmacy, you already know the massive cost of buying an existing one. To recover the cost of the business’ goodwill may take years to pay off. On the other end, starting one from scratch has its setbacks, such as obtaining the required licenses and the cost of running the physical premises.
However, Internet pharmacy, which is also referred to as ‘distance-selling’ pharmacy, creates a better business opportunity which is reasonably affordable to start and run compared to the other two options. But how do you start?
In this article, we will discuss steps to help you start your online pharmacy and become profitable as well as some of the things you should know as a start-up online business.
Steps to start an online pharmacy
Here are a few steps to create an online pharmacy marketplace.
Select the platform that suits your preference
This is one of the basic but essential steps to developing your site. Some of the platforms you can choose include; Shopify, Bagisto, or Magento, among others, Magento is one of the popular options for eCommerce sites while as Bagisto is based on Lavarel which ensures faster development and easy customization.
Whichever option you choose, it is crucial to keep in mind that the design of your website plays a vital part in the performance and accessibility of the site. This then impacts the users’ experience, and the aim is to ensure that the customer has easy access to the services and products on your platform. Thus, be sure to invest in the design of your online pharmacy.
As an a high-standards eCommerce site, you have to ensure that your site is running smoothly at all times. To achieve this, having a dedicated web hosting is necessary since such websites need ample disk space and bandwidth. Unlike the Shared hosting option, with Dedicated hosting, you are guaranteed to have a highly responsive site that will not slow down regardless of the amount of traffic.
Opt for a multi-vendor website
This will feature Admins end and a seller’s end, and it comes in handy when you have independent suppliers. It allows you to operate the Admin’s end where you can manage your inventory and also review all the activities on the site. The sellers have the freedom to add new products or existing products as well as deal with the pricing.
Consider mobile customers
The number of mobile users is increasing by the day, and you should ensure that your site is optimised for use on mobile devices. Make sure that all services that customers can access via their computers are also accessible via multiple mobile devices.
What you need to know as a start-up online pharmacy
It takes time to win customers’ trust
There are online pharmacies that regularly dispense more than 10,000 orders per month while other dispense more than 50,000 items per month.
However, you should not start your online platform with the expectation of automatically starting with flooding orders. You will eventually get there, but you need to create a reputable brand first to gain customers’ trust.
Competition is also stiff in the online sphere
Statistics from the General Pharmaceutical Council indicate that there are currently 496 websites linked to 453 pharmacies registered in the UK.
This means that customers already have a wide range of options to choose from. Hence, it would help if you purposed to come up with a business idea that other platforms are not offering.
This will help your online pharmacy stand out.
Delivers are key
Any online business needs to have a concrete and practical delivery system, and the same case applies when running an internet pharmacy.
It would be best if you came up with an effective way of delivering patients’ prescriptions. You should have an organised system that caters to both local and overseas customers.
Narrow down your services to be niche-based
To help your business stand out from the already competitive market, it is important to select a niche product that you are sure is on-demand but still overlooked by most pharmacies.
This will create a great rapport between your suppliers and your customers who are sure to find solutions for their specific problems.
Advertising will come in handy
To increase your audience, you might consider adverting with your local press or through other options such as leaflet dropping. This will only be successful if you are confident that there is a market in your targeted area.
Improvise other means to increase traffic to your site
An effective tactic that has worked for some online pharmacies have been collaborating with care homes to get your prescription figures up fast. This will increase traffic, and you should ensure that you already have a fully-factional system in place.
Do I still need NHS dispensing contract and GPhC licence to operate an online pharmacy?
While providing pharmacy services online, you will need to apply to use the GPhC pharmacy logo.
This assures customers and the public that they are purchasing medicine from a platform that meets GPhC standards.
You will also need to apply for an NHS dispensing contract to be included in the Pharmaceutical list by NHS England.