- After COVID-19, there is a surge in online pharmacy delivery orders.
- Route planning is the key to a successful pharmacy delivery business.
- Proof of delivery and drivers tracking are crucial features to consider in this industry.
The demand for online pharmacy services has increased drastically in the last few years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business Wire reports that the global online pharmacy market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% between 2019 and 2025 in terms of revenue.
Just like other businesses, the growing demand for online services has prompted local pharmacies to introduce delivery service options to their business model.
If you own a pharmacy business and are wondering how to start a pharmacy delivery service, this blog is for you. Here, we will give you a step-by-step guide for the same and also introduce you to a solution that will help you streamline your pharmacy delivery business.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Content
Trends That Influence The Pharmacy Delivery Service Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down many industries around the world. However, the pharmaceutical industry got a boost through mail-order drug delivery during the lockdown.
Some major trends that are influencing the pharmaceutical marketplace are mentioned below:
- Projected growth in revenue brings more opportunities to the industry
- Increasing importance of customer-centric services
- Adoption of technologies for sale and dispatch of medical supplies
- Set of pricing reforms for government programs
Here are the major reasons why customers prefer ordering prescriptions from an online medical courier service:
- Helps them save time and get medicines delivered to their doorstep
- Customers can get medical supplies delivered at their time preference
- Customers get better rates and offers from online pharmacists
- Improves accessibility of the medicines and medical equipment
- Curbside and contact-free deliveries minimize patient’s exposure to risks
- On-time delivery and better accessibility improve patient adherence
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How to Start a Pharmacy Delivery Business?
Here is a step-by-step guide to opening a pharmacy business.
Step 1: Carry out market research
The primary thing before starting a business will be to start with a market analysis, understanding the pharmacy delivery demands and its trends, and closely studying your competitors.
Before taking a step further, ask yourself these questions about your business:
- Are you an existing pharmacy and planning to add delivery?
- Are you planning to start a third-party delivery service?
- Will you be delivering to customers or hospitals and clinics?
- Will you be expanding into a medication delivery courier?
These questions will help you filter out your thoughts and goals regarding the business. It will help you reach a decision and stick to it.
When it comes to understanding the industry, the market, and the competitors, you will be looking into a lot of details. Notice how the competitors are doing it and what it is that they are doing differently. Finding their niche will also help you discover your own.
Towards the end of this research and analysis, you will have quite a lot of useful information to go ahead and pick your own niche, create a detailed business plan, and figure out the marketing plan as well.
Step 2: Understand the customer’s need
Your customers feel the need to stay safe and healthy. They do not want to risk stepping out.
In addition to this, find other specific reasons why your customers would want to get their medications delivered like:
- Ease and convenience
- Discounts and low costs offered by online pharmacies
- Regulate and improve intake of required prescriptions
- Ability to track which medicine to take and when
- Automatic refills
- Free delivery
Having to struggle with finding a particular medication and then remembering when to take it, and then going to the pharmacist again in a few weeks is too much trouble for your customers.
By offering timely delivery services, you are not only providing medications, but you are providing a pleasant experience to your customer base.
Step 3: Know the state laws and regulations
The sale of prescription medicines and other medical supplies is subject to laws and regulations depending on the demographics. For that, you will need to look into the specific laws relating to the state or city you are starting your pharmaceutical delivery business in.
Make sure you figure out the following things when trying to sort your business according to the laws and regulations:
- Where and to whom can the medications be delivered?
- What user data can you store and share with others involved in the process?
- What information will you record, and how do you intend to store and secure it?
In this case, the goods are essential, but the person and the information attached to each order is more sensitive and need to be secured. Your business should comply with the rules defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Take a look into the FDA Code of Federal Regulations relating to food and drugs.
Step 4: Get licenses and permits
Get legal aid and find out all the specific licenses and permits you need to register to start a medicine delivery business. As a business owner, there will be strict legal guidelines you will have to follow.
You will start by choosing a legal identity for your business and then registering for all the permits attached to your industry.
Licenses and permits relating to food and drugs can often be a challenging task to acquire. It will be really helpful if you have your lawyers by your side or others who have gone through the process of acquiring a drug license.
Step 5: Create a business plan
Building a good business plan or a business blueprint will create a strong base at each stage of starting and carrying out your business. It will work as a road map for your business to start, run, and grow.
Some of the important sections that you must cover in your business plan are as follows:
- An executive summary including your company’s vision, mission statement, and product or services
- Details about the company, delivery models, associated people, strengths, and the problems you aim to solve
- Market analysis mentioning competitors, statistics, and trends
- Highlight your legal entity (whether it is a sole proprietorship or partnership)
- The line of products and services you are going to offer
- Marketing plans and strategies
- Outline your funding requests and requirements
When you write your business plan, make sure you highlight all the key elements because it will help you convince banks, investors, and customers to choose you.
Step 6: Manage funding
Carving out a well-defined business plan will help you find specific funding options that you can opt for. Choose the financial mechanism that works best with your pharmaceutical delivery business goals.
Some of the best financing options available to you can be:
- Traditional lenders like local banks, credit unions, and financial institutions;
- Personal loan;
- Organizations like Small Business Administration;
- Angel investors or private investors;
- Crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
While applying for a loan, you will have to include three major types of funds:
- Build-out Capital: This is basically your start-up costs for acquiring fixed assets.
- Opening Inventory Financing: This funding is required for maintaining inventory.
- Working Capital: This amount will be used to manage your day-to-day expenses like utilities and payroll.
Step 7: Establish a physical store
The capital you gather from your sources will help you buy a physical store, warehouse, or create an online store. When it comes to the physical store, the location matters the most. Make sure the store is easily accessible to the customers.
Points to take care of while determining the location
- Competing pharmacies in the vicinity
- The demand for a pharmacy
- The purchasing power of the customers in the area
- Road networks and accessibility
For an online store, you can develop a medicine delivery app or a pharmacy delivery app. These pharmacy delivery apps allow users to buy medicines online without stepping out of their houses. Once you start receiving orders, you can hire staff to pack them and employ delivery drivers to deliver them.
Step 8: Hire manpower
Having an online medicine delivery service requires round-the-clock support involving pharmacists, business managers, supply chain executives, and individual drivers.
Providing online pharmacy delivery services involves various responsibilities, including serving patients with chronic conditions, delivering medicines to hundreds of customers daily, and providing same day delivery.
For the same, you will need to hire experienced individuals with the right knowledge regarding the medical supplies you offer.
To fulfill deliveries, you will need a team of skillful drivers who can deliver orders efficiently and on time. You can post requirements on various portals like FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed.
Step 9: Create marketing strategies
Your marketing and branding strategy must be in sync with your brand and user experience goals. Having a digital marketing and branding strategy is not just about securing an online presence. It is about creating an experience.
There are many brands offering pharmacy courier services, but how are you going to offer the users a different experience? Make sure you have really strong ideas and strategies in place to filter out the competitors and be visible to potential customers.
Step 10: Optimize routes for your medicine delivery business
Now comes one of THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS of a pharmacy business – ROUTE PLANNING and optimization.
In the medical delivery service business, optimizing delivery routes holds great significance. To deliver prescription medication on time, you need the right route planning and optimization software. Planning routes manually will only generate inefficient routes, resulting in delayed deliveries and customer dissatisfaction. But with a route planner, you can plan efficient routes that help you deliver on time with minimal fuel usage.
Benefits of using route planning and optimization software:
- Save route planning time
- Eradicate manual route planning methods
- Get rid of unnecessary paperwork
- Manage and dispatch multiple drivers
- Keep track of driver locations
- Deliver on time and when expected
- Enhance customer satisfaction rate
- Manage hundreds of deliveries
- Save on fuel costs
Get the Most Out of Your Pharmacy Delivery Business!
Plan routes that are more fuel efficient and less time consuming so you can carry out more deliveries in same time.
Upper – A Route Planning & Optimization Your Pharmaceutical Delivery Company Needs
In any independent pharmacy delivery service, planning routes consumes a lot of time as people still plan routes using Google Maps or physical maps. Despite spending so much time, they end up creating inefficient routes. But when digitization is taking over everything, why spare route planning?
Upper is the solution to manual route planning and its challenges. Upper is a route planning and optimization software that brings unparalleled delivery efficiency to your business. It comes with a range of features that directly affect the delivery performance of your business.
It overcomes the difficulties posed by manual route planning. If you currently plan routes using pen and paper, Upper eliminates the need for this unnecessary paperwork. Even if you’re using Google Maps, you’re limited to planning routes with up to 10 stops. In contrast, Upper allows you to efficiently plan routes with hundreds of stops in a matter of minutes. Compared to the time-consuming nature of manual methods, Upper streamlines the route planning process.
Some useful features of Upper deal to transform your pharmaceutical delivery service business:
Route Planning and optimization
Upper’s route planning and optimization capabilities are beyond that of a standard route planner. For Upper, it only takes a few minutes to generate the most efficient routes and allow drivers to each one of them. Efficient route planning not only saves route planning time but also reduces fuel costs, minimizes vehicle wear and tear, and ensures timely deliveries to your customers.
Upper considers various factors, including distance, time, delivery time windows, delivery priority, vehicle type, and driver availability. In case of last-moment changes, you can adjust routes on the fly so prescription drugs reach customers on time. With Upper, you don’t need to worry about time and fuel costs.
Proof of delivery and record-keeping
Proof of delivery and record keeping is one of the most vital features for any prescription delivery business. It involves maintaining a comprehensive record of every delivery made, including the date, time, recipient’s details, and the items delivered. With Upper, you can collect digital proof of deliveries by capturing photos and receiving e-signatures of the recipients.
This can be crucial in cases where disputes arise over the delivery status or if a customer claims they did not receive their medication. Secondly, in the US and Canada, pharmaceutical companies are required to store customer data for a minimum of 7 years. This is where Upper’s POD feature shows its significance.
Live driver tracking
Upper enables you to monitor the real-time location and progress of your delivery drivers. With this feature, you can know the whereabouts of your drivers, avoiding time wastage and over usage of fuel. It helps you identify reasons in case someone delays in delivery.
With the driver tracking feature, you do not have to call each driver to know their delivery status. You get access to everyone’s location on a single screen. Furthermore, it enhances driver safety by enabling you to monitor driving behavior and respond quickly to any emergencies or accidents.
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Yes, prescription courier service is a profitable venture. The major reason for the popularity and profitability of pharmacy delivery is the ease and convenience it offers at much lower prices.
To start a prescription delivery service, you need to:
- Understand the market leaders;
- How your competitors are delivering medicines;
- Figure out how you will store & deliver medicines; &
- Develop a well-optimized delivery process.
On average, you will require somewhere around $300,000 to successfully start a medical delivery courier company in the current scenario.
Get in touch with different local businesses and tell them what you can do for them. Along with networking, advertising and registering your business on online portals will also help immensely.
Prescription delivery companies typically make money by charging a delivery fee to customers for each prescription order. Some companies may also negotiate partnerships with pharmacies to receive a commission for each prescription referred or offer premium subscription services for added convenience and benefits.
To secure pharmacy delivery contracts, start by building relationships with local pharmacies and demonstrating your reliability and efficiency in prescription delivery. Highlight your technology, safety measures, and competitive pricing. Consider reaching out directly to pharmacy owners, attending industry events, and leveraging online platforms to showcase your services and connect with potential partners.
How Are You Going to Do It Differently?
Take inspiration from the best prescription delivery service in the healthcare industry and ask yourself: ‘What can I do differently with my pharmacy courier service?’
No matter what you do, make sure you offer the best delivery experience because that’s what matters when you are involved in the last-mile delivery industry. The last leg of the process holds quite a lot of pressure.
For handling all your delivery driver schedules and scaling up your deliveries, you can rely on Upper.