Our daily lives are increasingly becoming Internet lives. We use the Internet to buy products and prepare documents, choose a travel route, or purchase theater tickets. However, despite the fact that these options have become commonplace, pharmacy websites sometimes seem incomprehensible and not even trustworthy to us. Natalia Spasskaya, Manager of Rosapteka Pharmacy Chain, explains how online pharmacies work, how convenient they are for customers, and how to use this service.
— Natalia Viktorovna, when is it more convenient for a person to order on the website of the online pharmacy, and when it is better to visit a regular pharmacy?
— If a person knows exactly what they need –– the name of a particular product or its active substance, they can independently find it on the website, order it and then get it in our pharmacy. Online pharmacies help to save time –– the customer does not need to travel around the city and look for the necessary products, they can make an order at any convenient time and at any place –– at home, at work, on the go, and this, surely, is a major advantage. Yet our clients do not always know exactly what they need. So many people contact us with requests to advise “something”. A person has symptoms, something is bothering them, like a runny nose or a headache, and they do not know what can help in this situation. Alternatively, the person has a general idea of the group of products that they need, for instance, ointments for bruises, vitamins, etc., but cannot choose a specific product. In this case, it is better to come to a regular pharmacy, where our experts will provide advice, explain and help choose the right product.
— There is an opinion that online pharmacies are of interest only to retail customers, while for pharmacy chains they are unprofitable and, moreover, frequently become a competitor. Do you agree with that?
— Not really. Yes, customers are interested in online pharmacy prices, which are almost always lower than in a regular pharmacy, because the cost is not affected by rental expenses, staff salaries and many other things. Furthermore, the product range on the website is much wider than in a regular pharmacy, because the search system shows the assortment throughout the entire pharmacy chain and can display where the desired product is available.
Online pharmacies help to save time –– the customer does not need to travel around the city and look for the necessary products, they can make an order at any convenient time and at any place
— If a person sees on the website of the online pharmacy the desired product and orders it, does this mean that it is actually available?
— Practically always. It is very rare to have a situation where a product is listed in the database and can be ordered through the website, but the pharmacy cannot find it while processing the order. In this case, the customer will always receive a text message that the product is not available. However, this happens very rarely, and we will definitely warn the person in advance so that they do not waste time going to the pharmacy to pick up an order. We also always warn people if the ordered product is expiring. The employee who processes the order will immediately call the customer and ask if they agree to purchase a product that expires (e.g., in a month). In all other cases, a person who has ordered something from us through our online pharmacy can be sure that the order will be ready for delivery in 15−20 minutes, and they can pick it up from the pharmacy within two days.
— Is it difficult to use the websites? How exactly can you find the right product?
— All websites of online pharmacies are simple and clear. There is a catalog with all the products divided into categories: for example, “Vitamins”, “Hypertension Treatment”, “Hair Care”, etc. So a person can open the necessary category and choose a certain product. In addition, all websites have a search field, where you can enter the product trade name or INN (International Nonproprietary Name) of its active substance. If you need “Panadol” for example, you can enter this trade name into the search field or simply type “Paracetamol” and the website will find the desired product. I would particularly like to note that the search engines will not only show a particular product, but will also offer several similar products from different manufacturers as alternatives, for instance, different options of paracetamol. That allows the customer to choose the best option in terms of price, dosage, formulation and package size.
— What if the customer needs not only medicinal products, but also, for example, skin care cosmetics?
— The websites of online pharmacies offer the full range of products that can be found in a regular pharmacy. These are not only medicinal products, but also dietary supplements, medical equipment, from electric toothbrushes to glucose meters, hygiene and cosmetic products (including elite cosmetic lines from Unipharma pharmacies), medical devices and consumables (contact lenses, diagnostic tests, bandages, medical masks), goods for mother and baby. Most importantly, the website displays all the offers across the entire pharmacy chain, not just one outlet.
— What happens after ordering on the website?
— After the order is created, it appears in the pharmacy’s system at the cash register. Then responsible employees process the order. They check whether all the items are available, book and reserve them for the customer. After confirmation at the cash register, the client receives a text message about the readiness of the order, and can pick it up at the pharmacy within two days. Our customer is not obligated to do anything: he can pick up the products or cancel the order, or do nothing, and the order will be cancelled automatically as soon as the storage period has passed, or purchase only part of the order. If the person needs some additional advice, then during the visit to the pharmacy our specialists will answer the questions, and offer an alternative at a more attractive price, if the person is not satisfied with the price of the initially ordered product. You can pay for the order upon receipt in cash or by card.
We work only with reliable and trusted suppliers, and all products and medications presented on the website are original
— Can a person who orders products through the online pharmacy be sure of their quality? Is the pharmacy responsible for the products?
— The person can be fully assured. We work only with reliable and trusted suppliers, and all products presented on the website are original. We can request any necessary certificate from each of our distributors at any time (for example, if we plan to deliver some product abroad) and within a couple of hours we can provide the customer with all the required documents. We observe all conditions of product transportation and storage and are fully confident in their proper quality. In this regard, our online pharmacy is no different from regular pharmacies – our work is regulated by general rules and laws, so the customers can be fully assured that they are buying quality products and not fake ones.
— If customers order any medical devices through the online pharmacy, do they have the opportunity to check their performance and get a warranty card?
— Certainly. When customers come to us to pick up their orders, we check that all medical devices are working properly. Only glucose meters are an exception to this rule, since the pharmacy is not allowed to work with blood. However, glucose meter manufacturers always have hotlines, and if necessary, their employees will tell you in detail what to do with the device you bought and how to make sure that it works properly. Our employees test the rest of the medical devices, for example, blood pressure monitors, thermometers, etc.
We explain to customers how to use them correctly in order to get accurate results, we tell them how to take care of them, if necessary (for example, to change the batteries in a timely manner). Naturally, we always seal and issue sales receipts and warranty cards for any medical equipment purchased from us, regardless of how exactly it was ordered by the customer. Moreover, in accordance with the law, a person can return the purchased device within two weeks if its quality does not meet the established standards.
Since 2020, the Rosapteka and Unipharma chains have had their own website, tuta24.ru, where you can quickly and easily find the necessary medications or other products, reserve them for pickup at the pharmacy, or order home delivery online
— Despite the fact that the number of purchases that have been made at online pharmacies is growing, many people find the service not very convenient. What is being done in this regard?
— We are working hard to expand the capabilities of the online pharmacy. Our specialists are working to promote and support the website, increase the speed of information processing and reduce the time of its transfer between the website and pharmacies. We are also developing such a promising area as the sale of medications with electronic prescriptions. Currently, our pharmacy chains do not have this option, but our marketing department is working on this feature, and I think that next year we may have new functions that will be attractive to customers, including the possibility to purchase the desired medication with an electronic prescription. Our company always tries to satisfy our customers, their needs and expectations.