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Online pharmacy still has lots of catching up to do

Online pharmacy buying is on the rise, thanks to convenience and better prices and discounts. It is not just growing, as of now, a third of urban Indians is regularly buying from online pharmacies.

Online pharmacy still has lots of catching up to do
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Online pharmacy still has lots of catching up to do

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Online pharmacy buying is on the rise, thanks to convenience and better prices and discounts. It is not just growing, as of now, a third of urban Indians is regularly buying from online pharmacies. This high growth rate notwithstanding, the fact remains that most of these consumers, who opt for online pharmacy buying, reside in metros.

Although there is interest in e-pharmacies, tier-3 cities have less awareness or access to these platforms. A third of urban Indians (32 per cent) say they regularly consult an online pharmacy or buy from an online health platform. Just as many as 31 per cent said they did so during the pandemic but not anymore.

That's not all. Some recent studies suggest that one in twelve urban Indians haven't accessed these platforms yet but are eager to try them out (8 per cent). Some have not used these platforms for any service (20 per cent) or are not aware/ do not have access to them (9 per cent).

When it comes to online pharmacy, there are some other interesting trends as well. Penetration of online pharmacies is higher among adults between 30 and 39 years (38 per cent) as well as those residing in North India (36 per cent) and tier-1 cities (38 per cent). On the other side, tier-3 residents are more likely to say they are either not aware, do not have access or haven't yet but are eager to try them out. The Covid-19 pandemic gave a boost to the demand for e-pharmacy in metros and big cities, however in order to grow further brands will need to penetrate smaller towns and cities to create greater awareness and interest.

Of those who have tried or regularly use these platform, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) rate their experience of using them good and only 9 per cent called it bad. In addition to having a good user experience, most of those who use them regularly say they trust these platforms (78 per cent). Trust is high even among those who have not used these platforms yet, as they are more likely to say they trust than not trust these platforms (47 per cent vs 14 per cent).

While there is trust, there are barriers to trial and usage among those who do not use these platforms. Comfort with local doctors and offline pharmacies are the top reason for not using these platforms (at 46 per cent), followed by lack of experience using these platforms (35 per cent), problems of exchange (26 per cent) and delivery charges (25 per cent). In order to encourage these non-users to become consumers, brands will need to overcome these barriers in order to install greater trust among them.

Those who keep a tab on this fast growing sector, say that faster consultation, availability of substitute medicines, family recommendations, authenticity, additional services, and greater anonymity may encourage people to buy from an online pharmacy further. However, all said and done, online pharmacy still has lots of catching up to do.

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