Pharma retailing takes the e-commerce route
June 30, 2013: The rise of e-commerce in India has led to the emergence of niche healthcare portals in the country.
Gone are the days when one had to go to the neighbourhood chemists for buying medicines, a handful of healthcare start-ups are now willing to deliver them right at your doorstep. The rising acceptance of e-commerce among consumers in India has led to the emergence of niche healthcare portals in the country along with many other niche categories.
At a time when the generic e-commerce category is facing fierce competition, the niche channels offer better margins and as a result, many niche segments like healthcare, beauty products, gifting et al have come up in the last few years.
Current e-commerce market in India is around US$ 10 billion and is all set to grow multi-fold in the coming years, according to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Another report from IAMAI and IMRB suggests that the number of claimed Internet users at 137 million has seen a growth of 16 per cent over last year. This number is estimated to grow up to 150 million by December 2012.
Clearly, start-ups like Healthkart.com, Health-shoppe.com and the recently launched Drugneed.com are some of the prominent names in the nascent healthcare portal industry currently but going forward, it is expected that many more established pharmacies will be launching their e-commerce avatars on the web.
Out of the total size of the e-commerce industry, the healthcare segment is a small fraction but it is expected that the convenience and access to the consumers will be a differentiator for the online segment as compared to the traditional pharma retail. There are many other websites who focus on individual segments like baby care, beauty products, health supplements et al.
It may be noted here that Healthkart.com leads the pack in the healthcare portals but as mentioned, these are just early days for this segment and the coming times will be both exciting and testing times for these pharma retail portals.