Online Medicine Delivery – Getting medical supplies is a more private and personal experience compared to many others for an average customer. The kind of privacy and customer experience opportunities that online medical stores are able to provide has led to their obvious growth in recent times. Technical aspects notwithstanding most of the competitive advantage that E-Pharmacies have comes from inventory and logistics-led-disruption. Economies of scale in terms of shipping and warehousing powered by increased internet penetration helps E-Medicine Companies to concentrate on other aspects of customer experience. Experiences like direct-to-customer communication, home delivery fulfillment, fair trade, availability of generic medicine inventories, and more. The combined private experience of online buying, easy payments, and cost control empower online stores to increase their share of pharmaceutical retail space. At the same time the consumer preference of buying medicines from the local stores they trust triumphs over the advantages online medicine stores have. The endpoint pharmaceutical network if not structured still manages to practice better cost control than their digital counterparts. If the local medical retail chain is able to get over the visible shortcomings of last-mile fulfillment with E-Pharmacy-like-disruption in customer service, they might still have a chance to restrict the growth of online medical stores to urban-metros and Tier-1 cities only.
State of Brick & Mortar Drugstore Chains vs. Online Medicine Delivery Model
The sense of challenge for brick and mortar drugstores comes from their limited ability to serve their customers. While a sizeable portion of users still visit the stores to get their medicines, almost 61% of them have started to order their medicines online. The numbers have shown an upward trend especially among those aged 40 and above. Service delivery optimization remains the driving force behind this escalation. Customers in need of emergency medication, and those unable to physically access their stores are getting almost the same services at their doorstep. Automatic storage lockers and medicine dispensing units are already serving peak volume and emergency deliveries of medicine at hospitals and medicare establishments. However, General Medicine stores are yet to embrace such customer-centric factors.
Also, customers expect more from their visits to the medical stores. Over-the-counter experience has proven to aid additional purchase per visit in drugstores. Customers who have an automated experience in stores are more likely to visit again and also consolidate their periodic purchases to the same store. Conventional pharmacy retail franchises restrict their automation efforts to billing, inventory scheduling, in some cases human capital monitoring. Experiences like queue management, faster checkout, easy returns seldom receive the same attention. Here are some more reasons to consider delivery based disruption like self-service medicine delivery lockers in the pharmacy retail business.
- 24% of the customers end up visiting multiple stores to get all their medical supplies.
- 74% of pharmacy customers demand to have a preference for delivery choices pertaining to date, time, and venue.
- 15% of prescriptions in the Netherlands (incl. other countries USA, UK, Japan, etc.) require personalization adjustment in doses based on customer height, weight, etc.
- Lengthy returning process accounts for miseries of 66% of customers who get their medicines from retail stores.
- 60% of the customers surveyed worldwide have not experienced home delivery of medicines yet.
Opportunities in Retail Store to Online Medical Delivery Model
While the demand for e-pharmacy delivery increases among common masses, their loyalty and convenience preferences remain intact. Customers still considered location as an important factor (46%) for making their medical purchases. They still consider that convenient accessibility hours (32%) weigh more than any discount program provided by an online medicine store. The challenge to retail medicine stores mostly comes from cash strapped online giants and not customers or other retailers.
Common retail stores which have low paced exhaustion of inventories are seldom able to upgrade them with medical supplies which might require more intensive storage and delivery mechanism. The gap between same-day-delivery and same-hour-delivery enablement for roadside medical stores and pharmacy retail chains comes from this limitation of storage and delivery mechanism. As a result, customers have to search for online options to get their supplies. Smart storage solutions with temperature-controlled cabinets can help these retail chains deliver critical medical supplies without running the respective risks.
Cash in transit is another opportunity for click and mortar medical stores with the ability to lend a crucial advantage. E-Pharmacies experience a delay in realizing their daily and weekly revenues owing to cash handling processes between their 3PL logistics partners and banks. Powered with mPOS enabled electronic lockers for medicine delivery, drugstores can eliminate the cash handling costs as well as commit to faster revenue cycles. This in the long term can also help in mitigating the external financing requirements of retail medicine stores by minimizing their credit risks.
Benefits of Smart Electronic Lockers for Online Medicine Delivery Model
Medical stores in Vietnam showed 52% savings in their annual operational costs just by optimizing their storage and last-mile delivery mechanisms. In China, hospital retail terminals are handling $70-$80 Billion worth of out-patient pharmacy sales with the help of electronic lockers, automated dispensing systems, and smart wearable technologies. Everywhere in the world endpoint, the medicine delivery system is being seen as a potential game-changer for retail stores. Among other direct benefits towards the digitalization of pharmacies, there are many other applications of Smart Lockers for E-Pharmacy.
Low Contact Online Medicine Delivery with Smartbox Lockers
Given the recent circumstances, customers have turned from reactive health and wellness consumers to proactive consumers. This includes their preference for contactless delivery methods. 59% of customers plan to continue using safe experiences like BOPIS (buy-online-pay-in-store) and click n’ collect to get their medicines after the COVID crisis. Smart electronic lockers limit the delivery experience of customers to low-contact self-service models. Powered by technology as deep as face recognition and voice confirmation these E-locker terminals can lead to a faster & contactless checkout.
In-Store Augmentation with Lockers for Online Medicine Delivery
Connected customers today, wish to know that their trip down the block for fetching daily necessities is worth their effort. An interactive ‘information-panel-as-a-delivery-interface’ for customers can go a long way in serving this need for online medicine delivery of stores. Electronic Lockers with advanced order management modules can take this one step ahead and even take orders for medicines. In-store virtualization interlinked with inventory management systems, billing platforms, and payment gateways can even make each electronic locker unit a virtual medical store.
Value-added services of Smart Electronic Lockers
Personalization of pharmacy services can be projected in multiple ways with online medicine delivery models. Stores stand to enhance their revenues by 30% if they personalize aspects of their services. Automation of perpetual (periodic) prescriptions can be executed by assigning a personalised e-locker space to the customer.
A similar benefit that customers get from personal interaction on the medical store counters is prescription guidelines. With a programmable interface of multilingual electronic lockers, medical stores can augment such an experience as well. The information panel of smart lockers can display prescription schedule charts for the convenience of customers.
All-weather delivery services can be made a reality for pharmacies as well with self-service lockers. Also, the temperature-controlled lockers can revitalize the delivery segment of wellness and healthcare products for retail medicine stores.
Dark Stores for Online Medicine Delivery
Reach of pharmacies is limited to the block radius of their store. But with an online medicine delivery model, stores can choose to expand their territory with Dark E-Locker Stores. Small remote units which act as a front for stores to deliver medicines directly to customers without employing the services of a home delivery fulfillment partner. Such dark stores apart from creating delivery hubs for collective residential and commercial establishments also offer wider coverage to store operations across cities. 76% of the surveyed adults in the USA, have already confirmed last year that if provided with the choice to order online they’d want to get supplies from the local store compared to an e-commerce platform. Dark stores as a model stand to gain transaction among low-contact delivery users as it offers the convenience of access and an escape from the in-store crowd.
Online Medicine Delivery and Future of Medical Stores
Tapping into non-pharmacy aspects of their business is the only remaining way for retail medical stores to level with their online counterparts. Online Pharmacies may have covered most of the urban medicine delivery market but sub-urban routes are still open. With the help of secure electronic lockers for medicine delivery, medical stores can reach directly to such customers. These lockers won’t only optimize the current endpoint-doorstep delivery for the stores but would also open a wide range of customer-centric experiences for pharmacies. Pure play OTC (over-the-counter) medicines like Eno, Crocin, Advil, Tylenol, Beechams, Strepsils, etc. once made an experience-driven market for themselves based on direct marketing efforts. If they can, then why not our good old, local medical stores?