How Pharma Companies with OTC portfolios can win through Online Retailing

  • On May 8, 2020

I see a fantastic opportunity for Pharmaceutical Companies that own OTC (Over the Counter) and Consumer Healthcare products to enjoy great success through Online Retailing. But they’ll have to act fast.

There is a window of opportunity for Pharmaceutical Companies that own OTC (Over the Counter) and Consumer Healthcare products to set up the operations required to win at Online Retailing.

Regardless of why this window of opportunity exists, it is here right now – and the few that will take action will enjoy huge rewards.


There is a real window of opportunity for Pharmaceutical Companies that own OTC (Over the Counter) and Consumer Healthcare to win online – Image source: Amazon


The opportunity has been coming for a while

We’ve seen it coming over the past five years – big online retailers battling to acquire, invest or partner with Online Pharma Retailers or build their own offering.

While I’m not talking about prescription drugs here (that would require a whole separate blog or chapter of a book, even), the trend is positively affecting online sales of all consumer and OTC products that you would normally find in a Pharmacy.

But most Pharmaceutical companies are not prepared to leverage this opportunity, because they have historically been focused on targeting Health Care Practitioners (HCPs) and Pharmacies.

With Online Retailing being a completely different channel with its own logics and sales fundamentals – and consumers often opting for ‘self-care’ – winning in this space requires a different mindset and set-up. Leaving this channel to third parties or even marketplace vendors might result in significant damage being done to the business.


Why eBusiness Institute is in an ideal position to help

In this past decade, we have helped numerous consumer companies to establish operations that enable them to Master Online Retailing. We have done the same with OTC and Consumer Health Companies – and our clients have seen the benefits directly on their sales, both online and offline.


Winning through Online Retailing requires a particular mindset and set-up – Image source: The Independent Pharmacy


What can Pharmaceutical OTC and Consumer Healthcare companies do to leverage this window of opportunity? 

We have identified three actions that companies can immediately execute:

  1. SINGLE LEADERSHIP: Define an internal key stakeholder that takes leadership and responsibility to directly impact Online Sales. This person can be the Head of the OTC division, the Head of Digital, or anyone else in a high enough position to make things happen.
  2. GAP ANALYSIS: Understand where you are right now. Your products are likely already selling online. If you are not directly selling to Online Retailers and Online Pharmacies, someone else is. Identify the landscape you are playing in, how well your products are doing, and how well your competitors are doing. We call this phase ‘gap analysis’. And, depending on how much time you have on your hands, this phase can extend to analyse the internal resources, capabilities and processes available in order to get a full picture of what you can actually do to win online.
  3. SHORT TERM vs. LONG TERM ACTIONS: With your status quo clear, we recommend working two action plans:
    • The first will be focused on the next six months. This is where you will be able to leverage your window of opportunity, ramping up operations to directly serve your biggest online clients. In this phase, you might need to compromise on the layers of decision-making, adopting a leaner structure and relying on outsourcing some of the work, especially if you don’t have internal capabilities or resources. At the end of this phase, you want to start seeing revenues coming directly into your customer accounts – but you are not ready to scale yet.
    • The second phase starts after the first six months and can take as long as five years, with key milestones every six months or so. In this phase, you want to build your organisation, capabilities, processes and systems to own the relationship with a larger number of Online Retailers and Online Pharmacies. This is where you build your competitive advantage, bringing in all functions – to build, for instance, assortments fit for the online space, communication and sales plans, supply chain and customer support.

These are three proven actions that any company can take regardless of the current starting point. You may believe your organisation to be more or less advanced, and yet these three actions will still apply.


eBusiness Institute can help Pharma Companies grasp this incredible opportunity – Image source: Tesco


In conclusion – we can help Pharma Companies win online

Thanks to our extensive and global expertise, we are able to help companies in different stages of development with an end-2-end offer.

Our offering includes:

  • Our Consulting practice, which can conduct a deep gap analysis, build short- and long- term action plans, lead projects or support in the outsourcing phase
  • Our Capability Building practice, which will train and prepare your teams
  • And, last but not least, our Agency and Content Creation practice, which will prepare your products to convert.

Please visit ‘Helping Pharma Companies drive online sales of OTC and Consumer Healthcare products‘ to find out how we help Pharma Companies win through Online Retailing or contact us to speak to one of our experts.


Would you like to benefit from eBusiness Institute’s expertise?

eBusiness Institute focuses on the integration between marketing and sales to drive business results online and offline.

Our team has considerable experience and expertise in successfully developing strategies, capabilities training and creative assets for brands that want to maximise eCommerce growth.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about how the eBusiness Institute could help your organisation gain a competitive edge.








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