The pandemic has been a major villain for the whole world. Many people have been trying to make ways to survive. From establishing new operations and to establishing new channels, the difference of the establishments has been exposed. Many people have always tried to experiment with new ways of setting up a shop to survive, but the normal man always fails in a competitive world. The way the system works currently is very surprising, as well as expected. Sometimes, the biggies the endure monopoly is the same reason as to why the normal man fails. So, the system of expansion through the pandemic has always been a closed vessel.
Many sectors that have tried to expand their business are the ones that have a major consumer influence far away. Retails, supermarkets, and many more that are indigenous and self-made are the ones that are struggling to put on the line. Clothing retails to have failed this tested concept. The Omnichannel concept is nota new concept. A tried and tested concept like it had been a major use of many international corporations to get their dealers the products marketed to normal consumers. Similarly, the normal retailer doesn’t have the provision to exert their king of force that they could do but eventually fail off due to the hurdles that come between. Whatever may be the idea, or the brand wither good or bad or could possess a huge threat to such global power, they could be the ones that fail to the corporates.
One sector that isn’t just a self-made sector but isn’t just a multichannel as well. The Pharma sector is very restricted, and it cannot grow feasibly due to government restrictions following the protection of the consumer’s health and welfare. Hence, the operations are strictly centered on those with experience and a permit. Hence major names like Biocon, Lupin, Pfizer, etc., have huge retail connections and wholesale connections that sell their products to those within their reach and at the spur of the moment. The Pharma sector isn’t just like any other sector that emerges and starts up its path. It is a huge sector built on loyalty and faith over the trust of millions and billions of consumers, the consumer of their medicines for health and welfare (1).
The current situation emerges fatal and difficult at the same time for these sectors as they eye on establishing an omnichannel trade across to their consumers. But, the point isn’t about the reach, but the way through that reaches the consumer. Now the retailers have no choice but to bring consumers to the stores only with huge discounts. Online platforms like 1Mg (2), pharmeasy (3), and more have the online mechanism of reaching the consumer through the pandemic with all necessary precautions. Thus, the pandemic’s fear has prevented the consumers from visiting shops, thereby disrupting the business. Thus, the omnichannel problem is a major issue for local retailers today.
The Omnichannel Engagement
A representative-led sales model can no longer be relied on by the pharmaceutical industry in the digital world. As the need for more effective, cost-effective customer engagement increases, the technology to serve also increases. With so many communication channels available, now is surely the time for omnichannel marketing to be adopted by the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma is lagging behind other industries, such as finance, retail, and technology, to multichannel success (4). However, it is no surprise that pharmaceuticals struggle to compete, faced with multiple stakeholder groups and restrictive industry regulations. Also, look just over, clients are getting used to the convenient buying experience and high delivery speed. A steady trend is becoming multifunctional consumers (5).
Google, Amazon (6), Apple, and the biggest corporations in the world have paved the way for omnichannel experience and succeeded in putting clients at the center of their omnichannel universe (7). The way people perceive, choose, and depend on brands has been drastically altered by successfully executing the revolutionary customer-centered vision. As a result, pharmaceuticals and life sciences are planning to make full use of technology, and marketers are the leading force in setting omnichannel standards and giving them a shot. Physicians’ involvement in digital communications from pharmaceutical companies has traditionally been low; click rates for physicians in India average about 10 percent to 15 percent, with some specialties variations. However, pharmaceutical companies can double engagement levels in many instances by tailoring their digital programs to physician preferences. For instance, physicians in India prefer communication via WhatsApp overwhelmingly, with click rates 3.5 times higher than email and almost 24 times higher than SMS (8).
Digital marketing has forced industries to concentrate more on consumer behavior while prioritizing media-based customer engagement. In this, pharmaceutical industries are not left behind and try to gain more insightful decisions by interacting more effectively and proactively with their customers. Digitization has made it easy for physicians and patients to collect data through omnichannel pharmaceutical marketing and create a secure connection to manage operations without hassle between pharmaceuticals and different hospitals. The online market’s game-changers have been some of the world’s biggest corporations, such as Google and Amazon. They have used the software to the fullest, paving the way for an unparalleled omnichannel customer experience (9).
Pharma and Life Sciences are looking forward to an Omnichannel approach with the right blend of channels, messaging, and tactics. The concept of omnichannel marketing is thus evolving. In the pharmaceutical industry, omnichannel marketing is advantageous as all media channels are linked at a single point. The content’s integrity helps consumers by offering them an opportunity to get a personalized omnichannel consumer experience. For pharma companies, omnichannel marketing strategy has become the top priority (10). Pharma marketing is a seamless and personalized consumer experience banking on omnichannel marketing in pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry wants an Omnichannel content strategy for this purpose, allowing customers to interact from anywhere, anytime, and from any device to get any data they want (11).
How the pandemic has affected Pharma
The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third-largest producer of drugs worldwide. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, has exposed the Indian pharmaceutical sector’s dependence on China for its API (active pharma ingredients) procurement. Disruptions in the supply chain and restrictions on India’s product exports resulted from workforce shortages in China’s manufacturing plants. This was triggered in response to the virus by the quarantine policies adapted and adopted by various provincial governments in China. The disruption of logistics and transport systems, the restriction of access, and the movement of products to and from ports have further affected supplies (12).
The source of APIs is a crucial part of the strategic plan for the pharmaceutical industry to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report on the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The majority of generic drug production APIs worldwide are sourced from India, which also provides about 30 percent of the generic APIs used in the US (13). However, for the production of their medicine formulations, Indian manufacturers rely heavily on APIs from China, acquiring around 70 percent from China, the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of APIs by volume. A serious concern for national health security is Indian pharmaceutical companies’ current dependency on Chinese APIs, prompting the Indian government to set up a task force to review the internal API (14).
Several key pharmaceutical industry representatives and NITI Aayog suggested that the promotion of pharmaceutical infrastructure development approvals, environmental ministry clearance, and tax exemptions and subsidies to develop and promote hubs in the pharmaceutical industry could benefit the market.
E-Pharma vs. Offline Pharma
In the healthcare industry, the pharmacy business has emerged as one of the most profitable segments. Industry experts believe that India will soon become one of the top ten countries in individual medical expenditure. Over the next five years, medicine spending in India is projected to grow 9-12 percent. The pharmaceutical segment, with a maximum number of independent companies, has largely been an unorganized market. Now, with an increased footprint through franchising, organized players are becoming popular. With the rise of e-commerce and increased internet usage, another pharmacy branch has evolved (15).
Because of its laws, setting up an online pharmacy in India is a daunting task. In a liability claim scenario, the owner will need to purchase much medical insurance. The total value of a generic drug claim is more than fourteen thousand dollars, and due to the still somewhat unregulated online healthcare space, those numbers will likely increase. The offline pharmacy, on the other hand, offers you the ease of setting up a business. Pharmacy franchises are emerging as the most preferred option as the franchising model increases in every sector.
The business of pharmacy is all about having to serve requirements on time. This is the major reason why there is a boom in offline pharmacies. Medicine and drugs are something that customers need quickly; they’re not going to have the time to wait 3 to 4 days to get their order delivered. Due to its hand-to-hand delivery of medicines and credibility, consumers mostly prefer offline stores, and a reputable brand name also adds a brownie point for offline pharmacies. Now, with the pandemic, the pharma sector is in a dilemma. The e-pharma is winning due to the separation of the consumer from the virus. The protection capacities that e-pharma provides. That is why companies like 1mg and medplus are running high while offline channels struggle to cope with consumer loss. Now, people aren’t bothered about the urgency but safety.
Now, offline pharma need channels also secure their financial needs and the need of the people. Pharma companies are entering into a contract with such stores to push the medical products to the people, and thus it keeps the offline retail working as well. This further created the Pharma omnichannel for the whole sector. MedPlus already started with its omnichannel mechanisms. This further proved that one could not survive without the other at the most desperate of times.