Table of Contents
Mail Order and Internet Pharmacy in Europe the 2015 edition - Entering the Digital Battle Ground
There has been a huge change in the European mail order and Internet pharmacy landscape since the last edition of this study in 2012. Much of this is due to the rapid pace of developments in the e-commerce sector as a whole. Yet since 2012 France, Italy and Austria have at last cleared the legal hurdles allowing their domestic businesses to enter the online pharmacy sector.
356 million Internet users live in the 17 countries covered in this edition of Mail Order and Internet Pharmacy in Europe. There are around 7,000 authorised pharmacy e-commerce websites some of which operate as small scale independent businesses, others are larger cross border ‘pure play’ mail order pharmacies and many are integrated into the multi-channel strategies of leading pharmacy chains. Yet among the major innovations challenging ‘pure play’ mail order and Internet pharmacies sweeping in from North America is the development of a multi-channel seamless shopping experience. This they call omni-channel retailing and it is the new digital battle ground.
The integration of PCs, notebooks and mobile app technologies into traditional pharmacy retailing to capture the multi-channel shopping audience is an emerging trend in the USA. According to Walgreens, America’s largest drugstore chain, multi-channel shoppers are estimated to be three times more valuable than a single-channel shopper and so the company is evolving technology based strategies to capture this valuable audience.
Across Europe a number of major retail groups are combining traditional pharmacy with Internet pharmacy and online medical consultation services to capture specific target audiences seeking confidentiality, convenience and low prices. In Austria and Germany druggist chains are partnering with online pharmacies in order to capture a share of the healthcare sector which until now has been the exclusive province of pharmacies.
Today, the Internet and mail order pharmacy channel is breaking through as a rapidly growing, new and challenging retail channel. It is expanding its scope to include a wide range of front end pharmacy categories such as cosmetics, hygiene, dietary supplements and medical devices. In some European States repeat prescriptions, contraception and orthopaedic care are included in an ever widening repertoire of lines.
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