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Multi-channel Shopping Experience coming to a Pharmacy near You – New Developments in Europe
Linking mail order Internet technology with traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacies into a multi-channel experience will emerge as a game changer in progressive European States and suppliers and competitors will need to respond to compete.
“The arrival of multi-channel retailing into the healthcare sector presents new challenges to both suppliers and competing pharmacies which need to be addressed”, says James Dudley author of the report.
The report, Mail Order and Internet Pharmacy in Europe - the 2012 edition, draws heavily on case studies and developments in the USA to describe the evolution new pharmacy channels in Europe. According to the report fourteen out of the seventeen countries in the study permit Internet and mail order transactions for non-prescription medicines under domestic law, while only seven allow prescription only medicines to use the channel. These are: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Finland is expected to be included on the list in 2013 when e-prescribing is introduced.
In three European States: Austria, France and Italy mail order pharmaceutical transactions are still technically illegal but are permitted under EU law but for non-prescription medicines only.
The Dudley report explains the difference between so called ‘pureplay’
‘Internet driven ‘pureplay’
Patients get their medication at lower prices than at a traditional pharmacy and are actively encouraged to shop mail order by their medical insurers and PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers). As a result mail order pharmacies in the USA are prescription based. This is in contrast to the European model which is still very much led by demand for non-prescription medicines and personal care.
This philosophy is soon to spread to Europe and to the United Kingdom in particular following Walgreens pending acquisition of a 45% stake in Alliance Boots which owns Europe’s largest pharmacy chain, Boots the Chemists.
Walgreens informed investors and analysts in June that among a number of global opportunities were global e-commerce capabilities uniquely linking ‘clicks with bricks’ to become the multi-channel leader in health and wellbeing. This combined with the new group’s global purchasing potential has the makings of a real game changer for retail pharmacy in Europe.
Celesio said it was quitting the ‘pureplay’
Boots and the Co-operative Pharmacy have also set up similar doctor services for patients which provide prescriptions where necessary for emergency and oral contraception, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, and cystitis among a variety of embarrassing patient needs. At the end of May Lloydspharmacy launched a service which allows women to renew their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions without the need to visit their GP.
In Poland Pelion’s Apteki dbam zdrowie (I care for my Health) chain integrates the online pharmacy Doz.pl. into its retail offer through over 2,000 pharmacies bearing its brand.
Germany is the leading market in Europe for ‘pureplay’
The future of mail order and Internet pharmacy is likely to see the ‘pureplay’
Suppliers and competitors will need to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by this new multi-channel pharmacy environment especially with the introduction of new mobile applications into point of sale merchandising and shopper loyalty programmes.
In those markets where wholly owned chains do not exist there is the opportunity for ‘virtual chains and voluntary groups to introduce online elements into their retail offerings. The example of the relatively benign online network involving all the voluntary groups in Denmark, Apoteket.dk is a case in point. “But the ‘pureplay’
Mail order and Internet Pharmacy in Europe the 2012 edition - New Emerging Multi-channel Structures is published by James Dudley Management summer 2012
About James W Dudley
James W Dudley is one of Europe's leading strategic marketing thinkers and an influential contributor to a number of ground breaking marketing initiatives in Europe’s consumer health markets. He is a well known speaker and is the author of a number of highly important, strategic marketing studies including his best-selling work “OTC Distribution in Europe now in its eighth edition”.
He is also a marketing strategy consultant to a number of the leading international consumer health companies in Europe.
James Dudley began his marketing career with Nabisco and Grand Metropolitan in fmcg marketing, before entering the consumer healthcare industry with Boots.