Everything nowadays is on the internet. Your resume stored on a website, easily accessible to potential employers; your bank, allowing you to transfer funds or view your statements from the safety and comfort of your home; your life, with social media and many other services allowing what is deemed virtual to become tangible: At the click of a button, you can order paraphernalia off Grasscity and send an order from China right to your doorstep or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Now who is to say the same cannot be done for outpatients to purchase their medicine through an app or through an e-pharmacy? Especially if it is a long term commitment in which case will incur unavoidable expenses such as gas and parking, which could accumulate a significant amount.
The reason online shopping has been such a success is due largely to the fact that it is easy, convenient and it saves money; eliminating the need for consumers to make any effort or taking time out from their schedules specifically for a chore.
Furthermore, digitalization of the 21st century has enabled individuals to realize their desires – instant gratification. This has caused consumers to utilize their time in what makes them feel productive. Naturally gravitating towards products and services which allows them to multitask or crossover.
Many retailers have recognized this and in order to exploit it, coined together omnichannel marketing. This allows their patrons to shop however, whenever and wherever – either online or offline. However, established brands have the upper hand when it comes to e-commerce, due to the fact that they are trustworthy. When you push the bigger brands aside, you need to overcome the masses of questionable businesses out to part you from your funds.
It gets increasingly difficult the more niche your market is. Much less to say an independent online business selling pharmaceuticals. The first and most glaring predicament of it would be the authenticity of the drug or the website attempting to market it, since it does not have to go through certain regulations or protocols in order to be eligible for trade.
Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that there have been cases where incidents of purchasing pharmaceuticals resulted in death due to an ill-informed purchase. According to the article by Clacton Gazette – a local news publication in the UK – a girl had passed away after she purchased a medication she mistook for Xanax which somehow led to her death. There are concerns as well, of the drugs being counterfeit or contaminated.
Back in 2016, BBC reported of deaths upward of 120,000 per year, caused by counterfeit anti-malarial drugs in Africa. The company behind the faked brand implemented a simple system to combat against fraud and to verify the authenticity of their medication. On their medicine packets, there would be a scratch-panel sticker which contains a code which can be then texted to the company for verification. However, despite their efforts, the numbers refuse to diminish and they are still struggling today to curb this malicious practice.
Perhaps worse still are drugs in everyday life, seemingly harmless yet fatal. Little blue pills that look identical to Oxycodone – a prescription opidoid – were recently seized in Buffalo. A parcel was sent to an address, implicating an online purchase. They were laced with Fentanyl, which are “so potent even just touching it can lead to an overdose”.
How then, do you avoid such unfortunate misfortunes? Particularly on the internet, whereby there are no solid guarantees about quality or legitimacy, forcing customers to be wary and thereby souring the experience. Unless it is a product of a giant corporation which might charge a premium price.
In order for an independent retailer to stand out from the rest, this is where their “marketers need to launch very strong awareness and trial-building campaigns, supported by a positive product experience. Generating positive word-of-mouth endorsements are important”. Another option is for them to employ a third party guarantee, such as the assurances of an established foundation or organization.
Over at the UK, certain e-pharmacies have begun implementing the use of Skype to verify their patients identification, reserve the right to contact their GP and are given a copy of their customer’s medical records. These precautions are taken in order to ensure safe care.
Now then, while there might still be those with reservations, market trends point strongly to medication being readily available through the internet currently and will face exponential growth as the reach of digitalization reach new heights.