How Online Chemist Stores are Superior to Physical Chemist Stores
Shopping in the 21st Century is a truly global experience, where many people from different places can shop “together” and browse the same items. This global, world-shrinking experience is starting to show up in markets that one would not think is a web-based experience. Chemists are traditionally the neighborhood store where families would get their prescriptions filled and shop for other items while they waited for their prescriptions. The corner-store chemist is not becoming the corner-web chemist, and surprisingly, the experience has been a positive one for consumers, and India appears to be a leader in online chemist services.
E-Commerce has now brought eChemists into its global web-based marketplace, and customers are evidently pleased with the possibilities.
Some chemists are branching out, acquiring customers beyond their neighborhoods and municipalities. One particular online store explicitly aims to be the “…Largest Online Pharmacy Network in India” according to its website, BigChemist.com
Convenience and More Convenience
The convenience of shopping for medicines from the comforts and ease of home are attractive to many customers. An article in the Financial Times just this week highlighted the convenience afforded customers. “A huge database of medicines makes it a one-stop shop,” said Thongsuanmung Vualnam, a New Delhi health consultant.” This convenience is highlighted by the ‘one-stop shop’ aspect of the experience, which is a customary experience for experience eCommerce consumers. Traditionally, while you waited for your prescription to be filled, you would shop for other items in the store. That convenience has not disappeared, as visual advertising, keywords, and web links replace shopping carts and aisles of merchandise.
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Convenience, Check; Quality, Check
Help for customers is still just an aisle away and may be even easier for customers to find than in traditional chemist shops. Links for customer support, product information, and detailed advice (from traditional chemists who are now just online chemists) help alleviate the concerns about medicine quality and sound medical advice. The online chemists link with license, on-site chemist stores for their medical products and pharmaceuticals, ensuring safety and complying with regulations, according to The Times of India, “’Prashant Tandon of 1mg points out that there is no separate license for online pharmacies as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. “We are only an online platform connecting consumers with existing offline pharmacies (which have a license),’ he says.” A growing segment of the public find the convenience of shopping online and home deliveries of products outweighing any questions about seeing what one is buying. Additionally, having known local and regional chemist stores online assists in creating brand and product trust.
Easy to Find Savings
Much of the attraction of eCommerce and online shopping is the savings that can be had from reducing middleman costs and store overheads. Consumers are always looking for better prices, on top of improved convenience and customer service. Many chemists are able to provide savings discounts up to “15% to 20%”, according to the Times of India in the same article. These online chemists are able to translate those savings directly to prices, adding to the value of shopping online as opposed to the corner store.
With cost savings, other savings are to be found as well in terms of information. Cost effective medicines prompt patients to buy online. Many times information regarding a particular type of disease, possible medications to treat etc. is easily available online, which provides patients options instead of needing to visit a clinic.
Any pushback towards online chemists can largely be understood by the quality of medicines prescribed to customers. The Times of India reported that the online pharmacies rely “on various interpretations of the IT Act and Drugs and Cosmetics Act to conduct business.” However, many online chemists also have partner stores that they work with and many corner chemists have been caught selling sub-par medicines. The jury is still out in this area, but sales numbers might be the best indicator of how important this consideration is to consumers. One official, Varun Gupta, head of medical affairs, was quoted in The Financial Express, stating that one company “gets up to 60 million hits a month on its website and its mobile app has been downloaded 3.5 million times since 2012.”
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Online chemists have brought a new possibility to consumers, one that buyers of many other household items understand. What were once goods and services that only could be had at the local chemist’s shop is now a global, online experience, and the convenience is one that seemingly outweighs the concerns for now. Regardless of your needs in today’s world, the web is increasing in the ability to bring those needs home.