Ever wondered how the pharmaceutical industry manages its eCommerce operations? They are among the finest, demanding, and complex industries. The pharmaceutical eCommerce through automation is expected to grow to $18.1 billion in 2023 from its current standing at $9.3 billion. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the latest entrants in the eCommerce sector and automation is successfully contributing to the pharma industry through error-free production, product development, real-time monitoring and synchronization, supply chain management, logistics, and warehouse operations.
In an interview with Myra Medicines, they stated, “We use technology in all areas – ordering and stocking medicines, processing orders, delivery, payouts and much more. Our technical system makes order processing easier, analyzing the market better and data science helping stock the optimal quantity according to the market requirement.
Let’s talk about the requisite aspects for a successful e-pharma platform
Manage your Warehouse:
One of the biggest challenges the e-pharma companies are facing is related to segregating medicines considering the sizes, temperature control, and expiration date. Through warehouse management, you can easily segregate your drugs on factors such as the most demanded drug, temperature variation, and nearest delivery location. Thus, the fulfillment and delivery challenges are retained and customer satisfaction is maintained. Also, e-pharmacies can expect a regulated report on the daily incoming and outgoing drugs. eCommerce through Automation ensures a quick and hasty collection process, generates a pick-list, and stores the product details stating the exact location of the medicine.
Moreover, according to Mr. Tushar Kumar, Founder, and CEO of Medlife, he wishes to focus on developing more warehouses to cover more cities. He has dedicated a certain amount of funds to develop technology as the availability of medicines is difficult. The idea of having multiple warehouses helps in enhancing productivity, reducing shipping cost, focuses on faster delivery, and ultimately, cater to a larger crowd and spread Pan India. Also, the introduction of technology helps in having synchronized data throughout all warehouses, eradicates the need for pen-and-paper methods, and shows real-time inventory updates.
Excerpts on Inventory Management:
In a report on Public Health Centres (PMCs) in Udupi, Karnataka, it was observed that they stock their inventory in a different manner. That means, instead of arranging the drugs in alphabetical order, the drugs were arranged according to the expiration date. Thus, they rolled out medicines based on the nearest expiry date in order to preserve the stock and this process manages their cost as well. Ecommerce through automation ensures that all the folders are auto-generated, the shipment and transportation are created based on customization; Purchase Orders and auto-generated notifications can be sent based on the customer’s selections.
Another such example is Myra – One of the few companies to successfully implemented the heterogeneous warehousing, whereas, the only other company who has achieved that is Amazon. Their warehousing structure is heavily integrated and the time taken from placing an order to dispatching it from the warehouse is just under 7 minutes! Imagine, receiving the order within the hour on the busy streets of Bengaluru.
Wisely Use of Customer Details:
Myra acknowledged the importance of technology and the use in their daily activities, stating, “It is very relevant. It is essential that the demand is catered by not just the closest warehouse but the fastest warehouse.” With eCommerce through automation, customer information is naturally fed in system, view recently placed history, track previous history, forecast drug requirements, and track demand. In this way, you can generate stock beforehand and can ensure your customers always avail your medicines. Most certainly, customer information helps in forecasting future demands; through automation, the manual interpretation of data and slogging to calculate the numbers are replaced with strategically presents the demand numbers. Through scientific calculations and data, you can capture and forecast the demand and prepare for acquiring drugs before orders roll in. This prevents your company from over-stocking or laying low on stock, increases customer satisfaction, prevents from incurring excessive costs, effectively uses the customer information to predict their futuristic orders.
Trouble with your Logistics?:
According to Mr. Kumar, ”The biggest challenge in the Indian pharmaceutical field, from procuring medicines to selling them is getting accurate data on the medicines. Most Indian medicines are not barcoded, hence they are not recorded under a uniform name or code, which means that there is a possibility of data displacement as one batch of medicines changes hands from the manufacturer to the stocker or warehouse and from there to a sub-stocker or seller.” Logistics management can overcome the said problem by a simple calculation of on-hand information. The batch number is registered within the system and barcoded to avoid any discrepancies. Also, as the logistics process of the pharmaceutical industry is complicated in nature, the process followed by e-pharma is based on FEFO (First Expiry First Out), where the logistics are dispatched based on the expiration dates rather than First In First Out.
A good logistics management system is about tracking the batches of products from one warehouse to the final delivery destination. eCommerce through automation helps you to track end to end deliveries or return orders, monitor the consignment status, send alert notifications and status emails to end-users. As all the deliveries are barcoded, you have the flexibility to track the deliveries quickly and easily.
Process Order upon Payment:
eCommerce through automation assists the companies to release orders based on their specific requirements. They generate triggers upon which actions are taken in order to fulfill requirements, prepare invoices, and arrange shipment. With optimum customer information, the seller provides credit period to their dealers and in return, they improvise their stocks, enhance sales, and increase revenue. Inventory system is directly inclined to customer information, dealers ascertain the customer demand and pre-stock themselves accordingly. Also,
It is a tiresome job to regularly update the data and inventory levels throughout all the channels. It also results in logging errors in feeding the data source which may result in under-stocking and non-delivery of orders. Real-time synchronization ensures the orders are updated and accurate in each and every platform. They also send instant updates to customers upon confirmation of order.
eCommerce through automation has paved its way to the eCommerce sector to establish a simpler and organized supply flow. They streamline the shipping and warehouse management process, resulting in growing profits, reduction in manpower and cost, identifying potential customers and delivering products. Also, as discussed earlier the expansion of e-pharma; big players such as Medlife, 1 MG, Netmeds, and Practo have captured most of the market in the e-pharma industry. They are planning for expansion and acquiring new startups to brace for their 2020 goals.