COVID-19 to act as catalyst for online retail pharmacy growth in India, says GlobalData

Online pharmacy retail in India has not achieved the success anticipated at its inception. Despite operating for years in India, online retailers have not been able to get hold of the large unorganised pharmacy retail business due to lack of clear operating guidelines and understanding of the factors that have hurt the sector. However, COVID-19 has changed the picture completely. Although pharmacy stores are still operating, consumers in general are sceptical of visiting stores due to the associated health risks through physical contacts. Therefore, COVID-19 will facilitate the progress of online retail pharmacy in India, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

In August 2020, Amazon started pharmacy services in India.  Reliance Retail too scaled up its pharmacy platform with help from its biotechnology subsidiary, Reliance Life Sciences. The company acquired a majority stake in Netmeds, one of the leading online pharmacy retailers in India, the same month.

According to GlobalData, the healthcare products market in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.9% between 2020-2023 to reach US$74.8bn. This, combined with high smartphone and Internet penetration in the country, offers great growth potential for online pharmacy retailers to expand and grow.

Hrishabh Kashyap, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “India’s pharmacy market is large and fragmented. Time is ripe for largescale consolidation and expansion of digital pharmacy retailers. Clear and business friendly regulations for the online pharmacy sector coupled with value-added services such as medication and diagnostics reminders along with wellness programs for patients will enhance the likelihood of higher market penetration leading to faster growth. Services such as medical insurance, availability of doctor appointments and lab tests will facilitate further growth.”

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