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Are you shopping at The Great Indian Online Chemist?

A look at the fledgling e-pharmacy category in India, the challenges it faces, and how its ongoing consolidation phase will shape its future.

Innovation in the simplest sense is letting you accomplish tasks more easily and conveniently. Ten to 12 years ago, the likes of Flipkart and Amazon with their innovations such as 'cash on delivery' changed India's shopping landscape forever.

Five to six years ago, the likes of Swiggy and Zomato turned food delivery on its head. And now, in the past few years, buying medicine has gone online courtesy of e-pharmacies. Their relevance has gone manifold once the shadow of the Coronavirus enveloped us.

At CMO Week, an afaqs! conference, I spoke to experts from the healthcare community about the challenges the category faces, their thoughts on the pharmacies' ads, and the state of the category as giants like Reliance, Tata, and Amazon have entered it now.

Watch the entire session here or read on for highlights.

"Online healthcare platforms have stood the test of time to be the backbone for this fight against Covid in recent… We (1mg) are seeing somewhere around 40-45 monthly active users (MAU) and we're continuously seeing the acceptance of digital solutions in the sector," said Prateek Verma, 1mg's Vice President (head of product, design, and growth).

Medula Communications' founder and MD Praful Akali remarked, "One of the biggest barriers is trust and every single advert (of online pharmacies is around the discounting part of it… Trust, you can't solve it by discounting. How you should be addressing the challenge (trust) is what we should be looking for as online pharmacies."

"Whenever I've looked at e-pharmacy advertising, I've believed it is slightly making a mockery of the whole situation... E-pharmacy has great potential but we need to bring seriousness. People need to be educated… What is e-pharmacy? how does it work? No one is spending efforts in educating a normal person…" said Daleep Manhas, co-founder and EVP, Doceree.

"Given the last one year, it has become far more important for brands to have robust employee health and benefits… not only medicines, but it has also now become in terms of annual health checks, in terms of I require a package or subscription to cover my entire employee base, it's going to grow multi-fold," stated Ashish Bajaj, MediBuddy's head of marketing.

This panel discussion was part of the 3rd edition of CMO Week (June 7-11, 2021), a conference organised by afaqs!. Session sponsor - MySmartPrice.