Pharma deliveries: One-size-fits-all logistics solutions don’t always work

Mike Veitch – chief operating officer of Ryde

Why are we only solving the online experience?

When it comes to logistics, one size doesn’t fit all. In some instances, how we deliver a product is very important, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

In 2020, pharmaceutical e-commerce experienced a tremendous post-pandemic boom, with a 45 per cent rise in dispensing volume for online pharmacies. Although the demand for distance-selling pharmacies has spiked, we believe pharma deliveries can do with more care and sympathy for the receiver of their medications. The delivery system cannot be treated the same way as, let’s say, deliveries for retail, where a tad bit of carelessness is acceptable.

Each industry is different, and so is every consumer. There is a wide range of products that could be delivered more sympathetically – especially gender-related products. So what is the solution? And how can we make the delivery side of things better for the end-consumer?

According to statistics revealed by the NHS, the number of patients choosing online pharmacies as their preferred means of acquiring meds through the electronic prescription service (EPS) nearly doubled between March 2020 and March 2022, rising from 999,498 to 1,950,497. Additionally, the dispensing volume of online pharmacies has quadrupled over the last five years, from 13.2 million items in 2016 to 52.9 million products in 2021. Despite this, we are failing to deliver a holistic health and wellness experience for consumers – particularly when it comes to last-mile deliveries.

What needs to change?

We need more empathy

It has been observed that many pharma delivery services tend to operate in the same manner as other businesses—with little consideration and compassion towards the recipient of the goods. Most do not offer same-day deliveries, which is a big challenge, especially for people in need of emergency meds. A morning-after pill, for instance, if delivered late, may have difficult consequences for the end-user.

Moreover, several delivery personnel lack understanding of pharmaceutical items which can result in communication gaps—often at the expense of the consumer. Thus, a delivery system needs to be in place which can identify the level of urgency and respond accordingly.

Deliver gender-related products with care

It has been observed that women are more comfortable receiving gender-related products from female delivery personnel. These could include pregnancy-related medicines, sanitation products, or others. In this case, the delivery of gender-specific products by the same gender can be a great solution.

In addition, an instant delivery option may come in handy when delivering morning sickness pills or other feminine hygiene products. The goal should be to establish a safe space for all kinds of consumers so people feel at ease ordering their pharmaceutical necessities. The customer’s comfort and satisfaction should be the top-most priority of every business, including pharmaceuticals.

Special options for differently-abled individuals

In the past, people with health conditions or with a mobility aid were dependent on their helpers bringing them necessary medications, but with online pharmacies, they can readily order their own drugs without outside help.

While online pharma has solved a bunch of problems for people with impairments, the online world has certainly also created new ones. The long-term association of caregivers with patients developed an emotional bond and a sense of obligation to supply them with required meds on time. On the contrary, online pharma deliveries manage all clients in the same way, regardless of whether they are bedridden elders or healthy adults. This makes the entire process more mechanical and in turn loses the touch of humanness and sympathy for those in need of immediate care.

Special delivery options for differently-abled individuals can be put into place that can include options for interacting with the pharmacist online – if need be. Scheduled delivery options may also assist them in organising their weekly or monthly prescriptions as well as expenses. These can be scheduled ahead of time so the worry of running out of medicines can be put aside.  In the same vein, additional discounts can also be provided to alleviate the financial strain on such persons.

Inefficiency of one-size-fits-all logistics

As the famous quote of Abraham Maslow goes, “When your only tool is a hammer, each problem is a nail.” It explains our over-dependence on familiar tools and methods to address diverse problems in the same way without acknowledging the various factors at play.

As expected, this strategy is not helpful in business, especially in the long run. With the robust growth in online-pharmacies, differentiating your business with sympathetic and swift delivery may be your answer to beating the competition and gaining an advantage that truly benefits the receiver.

Customers’ evolving demands and diverse needs necessitate a customised delivery strategy. Since a range of logistical solutions might be required for online pharma deliveries, it is also critical to recognise the potential trade-offs with these tactics and implement mechanisms that benefit both the company and the customers at large.

A balance between customer care, price, and sustainability

While business is important, it can only thrive when you are taking care of the people you serve. Pharmacies need to strike a balance between customer care, pricing, and sustainability. Overpricing is a common concern for end-users, especially when it comes to urgent deliveries. On the flip side, pharmacies may not have the required manpower to deliver rapidly every single time. In this case, collaborating with a third party delivery service company may be the best way forward that is price efficient, sustainable, and allows businesses to respond to the needs of the end consumer well.

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