The European online pharamcy market was valued at US$17.26 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US$44.18 billion by 2027. An online pharmacy is a website offering to deliver, distribute or dispense medication on the internet directly to consumers. The online pharmacy market is a growing market with potentially new market entries who are striving to participate in the e-script market potential. This could potentially lead to pressure in the OTC business with more competitors in the Rx business along with an end to the post-covid boom in online pharmacy sales due to the diminishing impact from the pandemic and the return of the normal flu/cold season.
Several well-known brick and mortar pharmacy stores in Eastern Europe are shifting their focus to online sales channels in an effort to increase their customers. The market growth is also being driven by the growing consumer knowledge of the numerous additional advantages of online pharmacy services, including express delivery alternatives, open payment methods, cashback, discounted deals, etc. The European online pharamcy market is determined to grow at a CAGR of 16.95% over the forecasted period of 2022-2027.
Market Segmentation Analysis:
By Type: The report provides the bifurcation of online pharmacy market based on the type: Online OTC and Online Rx. Online OTC lead the market with the maximum share in 2021 owing to the increasing internet penetration and increasing knowledge of the benefits of online services, particularly for over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
By Region: In the report, the European online OTC pharamcy market is divided into the following regions: Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Rest of the Europe. Germany held the major share in the market owing to the increasing demand for online medications and doorstep delivery. The German retail pharma market stands out as the most significant market for online pharmacies in Europe given its size and regulation. While several large European markets are much less relevant as they have not opened prescription drugs (Rx) to mail-order.
The German online OTC pharmacy can be further divided into two segments based on type namely, BP (Beauty Products), HP (Healthcare Products), Nutrition, and Medicine-related OTC products. The BP, HP, Nutrition segment held the major share in the market.
Moreover, the report also provides the analysis of German Online Rx market. The online Rx pharmacy market is growing in Germany in the past few years driven by the convenience and cheaper costs of purchasing prescription drugs online, especially under the lockdown situation.
Growth Drivers: The European online pharamcy market has been growing over the past few years, due to factors such as the aging population, an increasing number of internet users, increasing healthcare e-commerce, convenience & lower pricing, increasing value-added services, etc. Value-added products/services are being offered by online pharmacies to widen their customer base, like e-Diagnostic services, appointments for a doctor consultation, e-Consultation, etc. In addition to online doctor services for consultations over the web, online pharmacies also strive to provide useful information about medications, diseases, and a healthy lifestyle. These services have widened the customer base of online pharmacies in the past few years, thus resulting in market growth.
Challenges: However, some challenges are impeding the growth of the market such as the regulatory environment, cyber threats & data security, increasing practice of illegal online pharmacies, concerns with inappropriate self-diagnosis, etc.
Trends: The market is projected to grow at a fast pace during the forecast period, due to various market trends like integration of AI in the pharmacy sector, rising implementation of e-prescriptions, escalating adoption of new technology, etc. Artificial intelligence improves the quality of services. It provides operational efficiency, accurate diagnosis, effective disease prevention, and daily health prevention to increase trust and customer loyalty.
Impact Analysis of COVID-19 and Way Forward:
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly fueled growth in the European online pharmacy market. Due to the travel bans and lockdowns, as well as the concern over contracting SARS-CoV2, more people were turning to online pharmacies to buy both prescription and OTC medications. Additionally, virtual-based teleconsultation was replacing in-person doctor appointments, which resulted in the development of digital prescriptions and further boosted the European online pharmacy market. Practices such as electronic transfer of prescriptions, and services such as the home delivery of medicines are expected to continue to some extent in the post-COVID era, thus driving the market growth.
The European online pharamcy market is fragmented. The key players in the European online pharamcy market are:
Zur Rose Group
Shop Apotheke Europe
Meds Apotek AB
UK Meds Direct Ltd.
Some of the strategies among key players in the market for online pharmacies are mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations. For instance, in 2022, the Zur Rose Group announced that the group had completed the operational integration of the Medpex brand at the Heerlen facility. On the other hand, Shop Apotheke Europe announced the successful opening of the company’s new distribution center in Milan, Italy. In 2021, Shop Apotheke was the major player in the German online pharmacy market followed by DocMorris.