In 2016, online and mail-order pharmacies in the United States pulled in over $125 million dollars, up from $75 million in 2010. With more and more people gaining access to the internet, there is no doubt this number will keep rising.
If you’re looking into starting an online pharmacy, that’s a potentially lucrative move!
But, starting and running a successful online pharmacy is no joke. Many online pharmacies have a bad reputation for selling counterfeit drugs to unsuspecting customers, so building your rep as a credible e-pharmacy can be tough.
Worry not, though, because in this article we’re sharing the best tips on how to start a pharmacy that will succeed. Read on.
Assemble the Necessary Professional Credentials
It’s a legal requirement for pharmacies to have a dispensing pharmacist on-site to, among other tasks, ensure qualify of drugs.
Inevitably, this means you need to either be a pharmacist yourself or hire a qualified and properly-licensed pharmacist to work full-time in the drug store.
If you’re already a licensed pharmacist, proceed to the next step. If you’re not, it’s never too late to become one! You need to complete at least two years of undergraduate school, pass the Pharmacy College Admission test, then pursue a pharmacy degree. Finally, obtain a pharmacist license from your state board of pharmacy.
Not ready to waste any time? Sure, 6 years is quite some time, and in business, no one has the luxury of time. Get down to hiring an on-site pharmacist.
Use pharmacy job-boards to advertise the position. Be as specific as possible to entice potential applicants. Ensure their credentials and license are valid and that they don’t have any criminal or professional malpractice record.
Incorporate Your Online Pharmacy Business
Starting an online pharmacy isn’t as simple as setting up a website and having a decent stock of on-demand medicines. It has to be a properly-registered business.
If you have no prior experience setting up a business, consult an attorney. He or she will advise you on the best structure for the business. In most cases, however, you’ll need to set up a limited liability company, so that the pharmacy becomes a legal person. This way, you won’t be held liable for the debts or actions of the pharmacy.
After incorporation, head over to your state’s board of pharmacy and obtain a license for the business. Requirements vary from state to state, and depending on the type of facility you want to establish.
In Texas, for instance, the license requirements will vary depending on whether your facility is a:
- Community pharmacy
- Community pharmacy engaged in compounding sterile preparations
- Nuclear pharmacy
- Institutional pharmacy -like hospital pharmacy
- Non-resident (out of state pharmacy). A pharmacy registered in another state, but dispensing drugs to residents of Texas. Many online pharmacies need this, unless you plan to only sell to people in your state.
The regulations around the licensing of pharmacy facilities are typically complex, at least to a newbie. To enhance your chances of getting licensed without a back and forth, hire a pharmacy business consultant to help you understand the requirements and fill out the paperwork.
Secure the Right Insurance
Online pharmacies face fewer risks than traditional, brick and mortar pharmacies, but that’s no reason to avoid purchasing the right insurance. A number of things could still go wrong;
- The pharmacist can dispense the wrong drugs or mislabel the drugs
- An employee making a delivery can be involved in an accident.
First, you need professional liability insurance, so that if you or the on-site pharmacist are involved in a professional malpractice, the policy will cover regulatory fines and lawsuit costs you’ll face.
Second, you need adequate workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee is hurt on the job, the insurer will pay for medical costs and any loss of compensation.
Third, you need product liability insurance. If a supplier sells your pharmacy faulty medicines, which ultimately cause harm to an end user, the insurer will provide coverage for any liability suits the facility will face.
Fourth, cyber liability insurance crucial. Health care is the most attacked industry. As an online pharmacy, you’ll certainly store client’s personal health records. If a cyber attack comprises these records, you could face multiple lawsuits. This insurance will take care of the costs.
Additional insurance includes building and contents insurance.
Build a Network of Drug Suppliers
The success of any pharmacy store depends on its reputation, as well as the reliability of its supply chain. You don’t want to run out of fast-moving medicines, only for a supplier to deliver a new stock in 2 days.
To avoid such inefficiencies, work to build a reliable network of supplier before launching your online pharmacy, and purchase your first stock.
Set Up a Secure, Friendly Website
A website is not only the face of an online pharmacy, but also the shop from which customers browse medicines and make purchases.
Invest in building a secure, responsive website. Have a look at this website to see a solid example of what you should aim to build.
If you have no web development expertise, don’t attempt to DIY. Hire an expert to do the job.
Market Your Online Pharmacy Business
With the stock ready and website set up, it’s all systems go!
Because there are thousands of other online stores, standing out and position your store as the go-to e-provider can be difficult. To solve this, deploy digital marketing, but be sure to adhere to the relevant pharmacy regulations and best practices.
Run pay per click ads, build a presence on social media, and claim your business on Google listings.
How to Start a Pharmacy: Just Follow the Regulations
Given the fierce competition among internet pharmacies and the fact that established brands have a tight grip on much of the market, starting your own successful pharmacy can seem impossible.
But we are here to tell you it’s doable. As long as you follow these tips on how to start a pharmacy, success won’t be too far off on the horizon.
Need more business advice? We’ve got you!