Ten years ago, setting up an online pharmacy would have seemed like a huge task.
But it’s really not that complicated. If you have an interest in the medical industry and you want to help people get access to the medicine they need, then setting up an online pharmacy could be for you.
Of course, you have to do your research before. In this article, we’re going to take you through the steps you need to take before you can get started.
Understand The Laws Surrounding Online Pharmacies
They won’t let just anyone start an online pharmacy. Because it is a relatively new industry, the laws can be a bit murky, but here are some guidelines:
- There needs to be a registered, licensed pharmacist leading the business.
- The pharmacist’s license must be valid in the area that the pharmacy operates from and the area it delivers to.
- A licensed pharmacist must oversee all operations including prescriptions, storage, and purchasing.
- You must only source medicine from legally recognized suppliers. Counterfeit drugs are illegal.
- You may need to correspond with the local drug regulation agency to see what drugs are restricted.
- As a pharmacy you could be charged with malpractice or serious negligence if you mis-sell prescription drugs. These are very serious offences so it is important to be careful.
- Your premises will have to be approved by the local statutory body before opening.
Start Creating A Brand & Marketing Strategy
Once you understand the laws surrounding online pharmacies, you can start creating your brand. Many medical companies choose vague, official sounding names that don’t relate to their products. We would recommend choosing a name that explains what your business does, as it will make it easier for customers to find you. A good example of this is company Skin Excellence Clinics, who as you might’ve guessed, offer skin care treatments.
The marketing and branding behind your company will be extremely important in its success. Patients need to trust your brand, so you have to build a brand that they can trust.
Decide How Your Business Is Going To Run
If you are a registered pharmacists already, this part is easy. You can control the running of the business and tick all the boxes needed. If you aren’t a registered pharmacists, you are going to have to find one. Then you need to decide whether to take them on as a business partner or an employee. Their position will be crucial to the running of the pharmacy, so it is valuable to become a business partner with them.
Then you need to decide the structure of the business. Will you be a sole-trader, partnership or a private limited company. These are the options in the UK, and it will vary from country to country. A private limited company is probably the safest option, but may require more paperwork. We recommend asking for legal advice on this.
Build Your Website
An online pharmacy isn’t going to be successful without an awesome website. This will be one of your main startup costs, but it is worth investing the money in. Get a trusted eCommerce agency on board and make sure you provide them a detailed brief. You can take inspiration from your competitors, or from other eCommerce websites. Your website has to be professional and highly-functional, as it will subconsciously effect whether your patients trust you or not.
Find Your Suppliers
Once you have built a website and decided which products you are going to sell, you need to find suppliers. It’s important to find the right balance between a good price and a trusted supplier. You need to be able to rely on your suppliers or your business could fail. You also need to choose the right delivery partners. Patients could be relying on your online pharmacy to get the medicine they need quickly, and if you don’t deliver it on time, it could seriously affect them. Once again, this is about building trust. Patients need to be able to trust your pharmacy.
Work Out How Your Online Pharmacy Is Going To Function
Now you have everything in place, you need to think about how your pharmacy is going to function. That means taking in and verifying prescriptions. In the USA there is a program called Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, that helps online pharmacies verify prescriptions. Depending on the country you are in, you may not have access to this sort of technology.
Then you need to work out a system for taking orders and sending out deliveries. This should be included in your website build, but there is a physical aspect to it. You need to control the stock in the warehouse and make sure it is refilled when necessary.