Jim Marlow of My Canadian Pharmacy On Meds Ecommerce and Company Advances in 2015
The development of ecommerce in pharmaceutical industry is gaining momentum, yet the direction is not taking the way of effective business development. Decent companies are outnumbered by spammy online drugstores, while the competition is raging. According to WebSTAT, the global amount of pharmaceutical websites offering various products have quadrupled since 2011 and now it is roughly balancing in the range of 95ml. Running a full-fledged online pharmacy is a tough job, and the prospect of fast buck is too alluring.
However, the risks associated with failure are very high as well. Therefore, considering a traditional business development model could be a the way to go. We have asked Jim Marlow, the head of business development at My Canadian Pharmacy (official website: www.mycanadianpharmacyrx.com), a prosperous drugstore playing fair and finding itself on the crest of a wave, to share his view and insights on the most crucial aspects of doing business online: customer service, audience, sales chain and many more — all you should know about getting started smoothly.
Tell us about My Canadian Pharmacy www.mycanadianpharmacyrx.com, how do you manage to keep afloat?
Well, entering the oversaturated market is a always a tough job. Now we realize that the decision to plunge into the online world when ecommerce has started gaining momentum was a very wise decision. We have joined the game long before the mainstream flooding, and although ecommerce was not on our top priorities list until the fall 2011, the experience we’ve accumulated is priceless — we’ve become really savvy in terms of investments in online activities.
My Canadian Pharmacy is an online drugstore service providing you with a variety of modifications of over 100 products. Quality medications, competitive prices and advanced customer service are our strongest suits. We operate in North America, although the international shipping enables people around the globe to take advantage of our services.
We recommend read: 5 Strong Reasons to choose Viagra in My Canadian Pharmacy
Well, looks like a description of an average drugstore to me. What makes you different?
Unlike our rivals, we keep our promises. And when we say advanced customer service — we mean it. There’s plenty of things you will like about our store: quick shipping, free online and email consultations, generous to a fault loyalty program… that’s just the top of the iceberg. The problem of the online meds industry is that everyone is showing off — jump on search engine and see how many mouth-watering super deals you’ll be offered. But what do we have on the output? Shopping experience leaves much to be desired, as you don’t get your order on time or even don’t get it all, not to mention quality issues.
My Canadian Pharmacy is playing fair. Outperforming a horde of one-day search engine manipulators is a senseless affair, while building a centralized platform is rather the future of the industry, but not to the today. From gigantic investments to seemingly infinite legal procedures, there’s so many lions in the path that building such a platform looks like science fiction at the moment. Therefore, we focus on satisfying the basic needs of our customers and provide additional value in the form of bonuses, discounts, expedited shipping and dozens of other features.
I guess it means that your business processes are quite different from those practiced at spammy websites…
Exactly. Well, the business aspects in a ’spammy website’ project are typically narrowed to online promotion. In fact, you can divide the businesses into 2 categories: those who resell and those who have physical presence of the business, regardless of whether it is a warehouse or a brick and mortar drugstore. These 2 categories in their turn can be divided into black and white subcategories.
So those who run actual business have to deal with a good number of offline aspects. Thus, for example, our legal department has grown up to 9 members, which is absolutely weird situation in projection on reselling business. We have to work hard to maintain partnership agreements with manufacturers, distribution companies and others, we have to take care of zillions of essential administrative tasks. Of course, online promotion falls into our scope as well, although the tactics we use are largely different.
But as far as it goes, you have to take on the burden of huge operational expenses..?
Yes, and that’s an integral part of conducting business online on a legal basis. Actually, the high level of ongoing expenses is a huge stumbling block that scares away the aspiring businessmen from moving forward in the ‘white’ direction. We have no numbers to back up our words, but the transition from black market into the white on is extremely low. However, the operational expenses in the beginning of the road is not the most crucial issue you have to cope with. Our monthly operational expenses account to 44% from the monthly turnover, but each enterprise defines the circle of operational expenses differently; thus, without plunging into details, we are comfortable with the current situation and operational expenses level and tendency in particular.
Will you disclose the numbers?
Well, the information is under NDA, so there’s nothing I can do here, sorry :).
Ok, so, perhaps, you will share the insights on the most effective approaches you’ve taken in terms of driving revenue?
Doubtlessly, our loyalty program is something that pays off really well. We’ve been working on the concept for almost a year, not to mention the preparatory work in terms of building a financial springboard. Should say that the loyalty program hasn’t even paid off yet, but with current statistics there’s no doubt it’s a matter of 4–6 months until it starts generating revenue.
Why did you make a choice in favour of loyalty program?
The idea of a loyalty program in online pharmaceuticals sales is quite weird.
Indeed! We’ve been puzzling our heads over the implementation ways for so long — the launch became the result of long hours of researching, brainstorming and analysis. But the idea itself is grounded on strong evidence that loyal customers in pharmaceutical industry stay with the business for prolonged periods of times. On the rise of our business the numbers have been reaching 8–10 months for returning clients. The state of affairs has changed, but all and all, the fat land for our the seeds of improvement was still there. Talking about the numbers, should say that the introduction of the loyalty program has boosted our revenue by 7–11% monthly, but the season of big harvest is still ahead.
Your optimism instills confidence, is it really going that smooth?
Well, of course not :). If things seem to be under control you are not going fast enough. We collide with numerous issues on a daily basis. The problems are many and they touch various mechanisms of our machine — from legal aspects to supply and shipping issues. And you have to react quickly, otherwise you’ll lose your positions.
Okay, so what are your future plans?
We are preparing a massive update of our website and the loyalty program is going to integrate it more deeply into Canadian Pharmacy experience. The update will touch, perhaps, all the aspects of functioning, but special attention would be paid to account area — this is where we are going to automate a lot of stuff. Finally, we are working with certain payment merchants to expand the list of payment methods, and probably, digital currencies will also be there.
Wow, do you mean bitcoin?
Let it be confidential information as for now.
You won’t give it away easily, huh?) It was a pleasure to talk to you. Hope our readers will love the interview too. You have a chance to say hi to them by the way.
First of all, I wish all of you stay fit and healthy. And when the times are bad, My Canadian Pharmacy will help you out. Cheers!