Svitlana Matsak

National University of Pharmacy



Iryna Timanyuk

National University of Pharmacy



 Abstract:. The article describes trends in the development of omni-channel marketing in the pharmaceutical industry. Characterized the current ecosystem of retail pharmaceutical enterprises in the context of the use of digital technology. The features of the digital transformation of the retail pharmaceutical sector in Ukraine are shown.

 Keywords: digital marketing, pharmaceutical business, omni-channel marketing, social media, global transformation


 Digital technology has become an integral part of everyday life over the past decade. Most pharmaceutical companies have quickly adapted to the digital era in an effort to develop new marketing channels for distribution and consumer communication. The phrase "digital transformation" has become the watchword of 2021 for the entire healthcare system. Rapid technological development is taking place in all segments of the pharmaceutical market. The digital revolution has embraced both the creation of new medicines and has brought innovative solutions to brand marketing and patient communication [1, 2].

 The COVID-19 pandemic was a powerful catalyst for the transformation process as the pharmaceutical industry immersed itself in the world of Internet sales, remote communications and new legislation. A global transformation of the entire marketing, communications, and sales system in the pharmaceutical industry has already taken place, and "digital" has penetrated all areas of any market player [10, 28, 37, 42]. It is easy to foresee that in the future, digital marketing technologies will continue to dominate the pharmaceutical promotion complex [3]. Ten years ago, Internet sales and sales in a regular pharmacy were parallel worlds that hardly ever intersected. Now everyone at any time can be connected to the network regardless of their location. There are no longer any borders between sales channels and ways of contacting consumers.

 Today, the Internet is so tightly woven into every business activity of pharmaceutical companies. A successful business is simply not possible without e-Commerce, digital communications, marketing, and mobile solutions. As the boundaries between the pharmacy establishment, the IT industry, and the end consumer blur, digital technologies to promote the pharmacy assortment play an increasing role. The expansion of e-commerce services is leading to a unique path for each shopper and expects a personalized experience at every step of the way [2, 9, 50]. Whichever way they choose to buy online or at a neighborhood pharmacy, on a computer or mobile device, they want personalized, high-quality service.

 It is this approach that defines the world of omni-channel communications, in which the buyer chooses how to communicate more conveniently with the seller and how to buy more comfortably: online, in a mobile app, social network or marketplace [4]. Get the goods with delivery by courier, through a reservation or a pickup point. It is possible to start a dialogue with a company on a website, continue in a mobile app, collect reviews on a social network, compare prices on a marketplace, or even buy in a stationary pharmacy. It is no longer possible to separate online activities from offline ones: all marketing and sales technologies are deeply integrated, complementing and enhancing each other. This is how the company creates a single cloud of constant contact with its customers, consisting of closely intertwined "live" and distance channels of communication, allowing customers to meet their needs at any time and in any form.

 An important element of the concept of omni-channel marketing is to satisfy the desire of the consumer here and now. In most cases, a particular person's desire arises from their social connections and public opinion in general. A person receives a signal about a product through the channel in whose zone of influence he or she finds himself or herself. Having received a signal, a person seeks to satisfy desires as quickly, cheaply, and qualitatively as possible. Accordingly, the task of trade is to satisfy the desires of the potential client as much as possible. At the same time, the consumer should not feel the difference in channels, buying goods in the way he feels comfortable at the moment, receiving and returning, if necessary, goods where he feels more comfortable.

 Today, pharmacy e-commerce is one of the most popular areas of development of retail pharmaceutical business. According to the analytical agency Data Insight, the volume of online sales, which includes sales of Internet pharmacies, online delivery services of pharmacy products, online sales and online product reservations was 14.7 billion UAH by the end of 2020. Thus, the share of Internet pharmacy sales exceeded 12% of the entire commercial segment of the pharmaceutical market in Ukraine. At the same time, the growth of online pharmacy sales in 2020 was 53% and will continue to increase in 2021.

 The pharmaceutical retail segment has seen rapid development of various options for purchasing any pharmacy products. Consumers can buy products directly from the pharmacy or make a reservation for a medicine on the website of an Internet pharmacy, pharmacy or universal marketplace, pharmacy aggregator or reference system [5]. The purchase of the reserved online product can be completed directly at the pharmacy, or the order will be delivered by courier (for example, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, orthopedic products, medical devices, etc.). Accordingly, information about Pharmacy Brands and Services can be presented to patients in a variety of communication channels, but, in an ideal omni-channel model, the consumer should be able to make a purchase quickly and in any way that is convenient for them.

 A pharmacy aggregator is a service that combines different brands and uploads their physician assortment and current prices. The customer could find a rare medicine, see all the prices for it in the city and book it for a set period at the lowest price in town.

 Now most representatives of the pharmacy retail sector have similar basic functionality on their site and app, allowing them to select medications, put them in the cart, and order delivery or pickup from a convenient pharmacy. But, in the new conditions of digital competition, pharmacy organizations have a unique chance to completely transform customer behavior by offering them not only the classic mobile app and website with the function of buying medications, but also by creating an entire ecosystem for patients, covering most health-related needs.

 Having analyzed the state of the pharmaceutical industry, the following areas are proposed, service options already exist or will rapidly develop in the near future in Ukraine:

  • online chat with a pharmacist to get a consultation when ordering remotely;
  • the ability to obtain a telemedicine consultation from a doctor or to make an appointment offline;
  • including chatbots in the customer service. The chatbots can become trusted helpers on patients' journey and influence their adherence to treatment, as they can answer 80% of the questions that arise along the way, including composition, indications, contraindications, side effects. Chatbots are a useful tool that complements omni-channel consumer communication, reduces call center costs, and streamlines the process of navigating to purchase;
  • various digital services for the design of retail outlets, such as digital display cases with the ability to advertise and sell medicines;
  • augmented reality services, where by pointing your smartphone camera at a drug, you can get all the information about it;
  • services on the use of medicines, such as: reminders about taking them, messages about medicine incompatibilities, recommendations of analogues, etc.

 The company that first implements new digital services, integrates them into a user-friendly interface and completely surrounds patients with a medicines ecosystem and will be able to win the loyalty of its customers.

 Internet sales of the pharmacy assortment is a "red ocean" with powerful specialized and universal players that invest heavily in attracting end users and developing more and more new services for consumers. After all, in the final analysis, it is the patient who chooses and decides where to buy and for whom to "vote" with their money, and in the competition in the field of pharmaceutical e-commerce, the company that finds the optimal balance between a high level of service and economics will win.



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