Have you given a thought about starting an online pharmacy store?
I know the idea is very intimidating but if you have a chemist background then you can think of opening up an online pharmacy store.
Pharmacy is a lucrative business because it is not affected by the cyclic economic downturn. And online pharmacies in India have significantly increased due to growing E-commerce in India.
Moreover the numbers of private hospitals are rising all over the country. There is a growth in healthcare and pharmacy industry in the country.
So it could be very profitable to start an online pharmacy store now. In this article we give you details about how you can start an online store.
We talk about complete business plan then discuss reasons why is it so difficult to start one in India & finally conclude the article by debating some of the challenges that you might face while starting it.
So let us see them one by one.
Online Pharmacy or Internet Pharmacy Store
You already know about a drug store or a medical store serving in your neighbourhood.
But what about online pharmacy store?
You got to understand what does an online pharmacy store means?
Internet pharmacy could also be called as distance pharmacy where the customers or patients have no face to face contact with the pharmacy staff for the delivery of only special kinds of drugs.
So it means patients will come to your online pharmacy store for only reading reviews of essential drugs or medicine. However they can’t buy essential medicines from your online store.
Your online store would be the conduit between the main store and the patients.
Why there are Few Online Pharmacy Stores in India
Well there could be many reasons why starting an online pharmacy store in India is a daunting task.
But the two main reasons are lack of awareness and the law.
When it comes to awareness only few professionals know about online pharmacy stores. Yes they know about a drug store but no idea how to operate an online version.
Many of them don’t understand what an online store means because it can be interpreted in many ways.
So this was about awareness.
But other laws and regulations are also very tough because they almost discourage young professionals from starting an online pharmacy store.
For example the Laws of Pharmacies in India were written prior to the arrival of computers.
Moreover the country doesn’t have any concrete law defined specifically for E-commerce companies.
If you want to operate an online pharmacy store in India then you have to abide by strict laws and regulations defined by the government of India.
If you go outside the limit then you will be taken to task by the government authorities.
For example, laws for shipping medicines from one state to other are not clear. Another one is, can the online store take money prior to delivery of medicines or not?
So these things are still not very clear before you think of opening an online pharmacy store here in India.
Chalking Out a Complete Business Plan
Before you think of stating your own online pharmacy store you need to chalk out a business plan so you don’t fail.
As I said earlier starting an online store in India is not very easy. So making a concrete plan is very important.
The first responsibility will be supplying medicines against a prescription to anyone in your state.
Most of your customers would be from your area or within the city limit.
You need to find various ways and methods for delivering prescription medicines to the patients once your online pharmacy is up and running.
You got to employ staffs that are going to deliver medicines to the patients at their doorsteps.
Next is advertising your business. In order to reach out to customers you have to spend money. Your budget could be modest like running campaigns on Google AdWords.
You can use other offline methods also for promoting your new online store. Things like distributing pamphlets, dropping leaflets, giving ads in local newspapers etc.
Starting an online store is not as easy as someone might suggest.
After dealing with the cost of starting the business you also have to overcome all the laws and regulations defined by the government.
It is wise to consult a lawyer before your business gets up and running.
How to Start an Offline Pharmacy Store
Before I tell you step by step procedure for starting an online pharmacy store you need to know how to start an offline pharmacy store.
First you get to register your business or store according to the law of the land.
There are different categories for which you have to register your pharmacy store. Most popular are hospital pharmacy, chain pharmacy and township pharmacy.
But the best one is setting up a standalone pharmacy business because it limits many liabilities.
You have to obtain VAT registration from the state your pharmacy store is located in. All the pharmacies stores are required to VAT registration and pay VAT taxes.
You have to get license from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization and State Drugs Standard Control Organization.
There are two types of licenses one is Retail Drug License and other one is Wholesale Drug License.
Requirement of Obtaining License
For retail drug license you have to have diploma or degree in pharmacy from a recognized university.
Area: You must have an area of 10 sq. meters for the store.
Storage Facility: Refrigerators and air conditioners in the store.
Staff: As I said earlier the staff must have a diploma or degree.
Many things like your ID, Address Proof, application form etc. So you have to go through all of this before your offline store opens.
Starting an Online Version
Now you have an idea how to go about for starting an offline pharmacy store. So it will be easier to start an online version of the same thing.
The first thing you would need is the credibility. You have to be credible in order to start an online store.
You must have a professional pharmacist or doctor on the site for ensuring the quality of drugs and other medicines.
You have to consult your lawyer because of many laws and regulations.
Apply for all the licenses that we mentioned in the above paragraphs.
Build a relationship with your suppliers. You must know that your suppliers are genuine and not supplying any counterfeit medicine.
First step towards creating your online store is buying a domain name & hosting. If you don’t have idea of creating an e-commerce site then you hire a web developer from any of the freelance sites mentioned here.
Once your website is up & running perfectly, you need to market your business online. Some of the best methods are Facebook marketing, Google AdWords, YouTube, Press Releases etc. You must check these 50 ways to promote online.
Always try your best to advertise about the legitimacy of your website.
So this is how you get to start your online pharmacy store.
Why Starting Could be Difficult?
I must reiterate starting the business would not be very easy because of tough laws and regulations.
You can’t sell drugs to minors or ship them out of your state. There are number of medicines you can’t sell without prescriptions so you need to ask the customers to upload the prescriptions so that you can verify before delivery.
You have to go through every small detail and then consult your lawyer before you start a store.
Read this article and make your final decision.