Before I go into the details of retail pharmacy trends holding sway in Nigeria, I will tell you a story.
A couple of weeks back, a Pharmacist colleague was sharing with me how another colleague running a retail pharmacy became aware of a retail pharmacy trend that was threatening to leave her practice behind.
She observed a dispatch rider within the neighborhood of her premise, delivering a package of medicines, from a pharmacy miles away, to a resident who should have strolled into her pharmacy to buy the medicines.
For her, it was an eye-opener to one of the retail pharmacy trends in Nigeria. Check them out below.
1. Online Retail Pharmacy & Stores
Online Stores are becoming the “thing” for retail pharmacies in Nigeria. This trend started way before the pandemic but was practiced mainly by a relatively few pharmacy stores like OneHealthNG, DrugStore, Nard Pharmacy, and the chain pharmacy stores like Healthplus, Medplus, Nett Pharmacy, etc.
The Covid-19 Pandemic later became a catalyst for the proliferation of online retail pharmacy stores.
You can set up your online store with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, or with local service providers like Invotide. You will need to buy a domain name and a hosting service from platforms like Namecheap, Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc., to set up your online store.
Retail pharmacies also make use of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to engage with potential customers. The only problem here, and even with online stores in Nigeria is the indiscriminate involvement of non-pharmacists in selling medicines because of lack of regulation.
However, the regulatory body of pharmacy practice, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in December 2021, gazetted Online Pharmacy Regulation which provides that there must be a superintendent pharmacist to register all online pharmacies.
In other words, if you are not a pharmacist, register and get licensed with PCN by employing a Superintendent Pharmacist to engage with the council on behalf of your pharmacy.
Also, note that you also have to have a physical store as a prerequisite to open an online store. Check out How to Start a Successful Retail Pharmacy in Nigeria in 7 Steps, for more guidance.
For the technical details of how to set up your own online retail pharmacy, watch out for my next post with detailed and practical guides on how to DIY.
2. Online Patient Counseling by a Pharmacist a.k.a. TelePharmacy
Undoubtedly, the way business is done and value creation for customers is on the fast lane of digital transformation and retail pharmacy is not left behind.
The retail pharmacy is usually the first point of contact for people when they have initial feelings of infirmity and especially in this part of the world where payment of healthcare is predominantly paid for out-of-pocket.
The pharmacist in this setting provides a listening ear to patients and valuable counsel on Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to consider, or on the need to seek appointments with other Healthcare Practitioners.
This role of the pharmacist is also going digital. Now more than ever, customers and patients seek the pharmacist’s counsel over a phone call or interact with them using social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other Chat widgets on Online Stores and Websites.
What this means is that the retail pharmacists’ geographical scope is expanding beyond their immediate environment as they also get new patients/leads from this portal.
So if you still rely only on walk-in customers/patients, you need to “smell the coffee”.
3. Automated Inventory Management
Making sure you have adequate stock to meet the customers/patients’ needs on one hand, and not over-stocking on the other hand that affects your Cash Flow and increases your Expiry Risk, are business running challenges that retail pharmacies grapple with on a daily basis.
In other words, how well inventory management is done has a direct correlation to meeting patients’ needs as well as business profitability.
Today, all around us, health-tech companies are springing up to help automate this process. Some of them like mPharma helps to manage your whole supply chain including stocking, replenishment, taking over your expiry risk, and improving your cash flow as you only pay per time for what has been sold.
Another health-tech company that plays in this space is DrugStoc. They use a tech-enabled procurement system to manage the supply chain of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare consumables to healthcare organizations, including pharmacies.
Some of these health-tech companies also offer, in addition, inventory software (usually cloud-based) to make the whole process streamlined.
4. Online Ordering Platforms & Delivery to Retail Pharmacies by Wholesalers
Here, the services rendered range from an offer of an online ordering platform to retail pharmacies by wholesalers to making an actual delivery to your premise, and everything in-between.
With a wholesaler like New Heights Pharmaceuticals, you get to order online, interact with well-trained staff, and eventually, they deliver to your premises.
What this means is that you do not have to waste precious time moving physically from one wholesale outfit to another, or invest in logistics to convey goods to your premises. Forward-thinking wholesalers offer you an order-to-delivery service.
In conclusion, if you run a retail pharmacy, I would like to encourage you to not just follow these trends, but to start incorporating them into your practice to remain relevant and competitive.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.