UK consumers open to purchasing drugs from Amazon Pharmacy

08 October 2021 3 min. read
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A new report suggests that if Amazon were to launch a Pharmacy service in the UK, the company would likely thrive in the market. Amazon has traditionally used its customer intimacy and awareness methodologies to dominate every corner of the ecommerce market – and more than 40% of regular Amazon customers confirm they would use the mail-order giant’s pharmaceutical offer.

Amazon Pharmacy is an online pharmacy which is a subsidiary of Amazon. The business was launched in November 2020, initially offering pharmacy service only in the US.

Amazon Pharmacy's business is based on online sales, offering free, two-day home delivery of prescriptions to Amazon Prime subscribers. Users establish a secure pharmacy profile to manage insurance and medical information, and at the time of its launch, Amazon Pharmacy also announced its intention to offer a help line staffed by pharmacists and a discount program for uninsured customers.

UK consumers open to purchasing drugs from Amazon Pharmacy

Initially, Amazon Pharmacy faced challenges including customer habit in using nearby brick-and-mortar drug stores, and customer desire to speak in person with a pharmacist. However, amid the pandemic, consumer behaviours have changed enough that this dependence on traditional pharmacies did not seem to hinder the web-giant. In the end, the formation of Amazon Pharmacy saw a huge disruption of the retail pharmacy sector, and all in all, drugstores, drug distributors, and health insurers lost $22 billion in market value on the day of its launch alone.

Aware of what has occurred in the US, pharmacists on the other side of the Atlantic are looking on anxiously, even though the market is very different there. The UK market sees drug prices are regulated, so Amazon would not be able to compete with pharmacies on price as it can in the US. However, it also has convenience and speed on its side.

Highlighting this, a new study from Simon-Kucher & Partners has revealed that a large minority of UK consumers would be willing to use Amazon’s pharmaceutical services. The poll of 1,000 individuals in Britain found that convenience and price remained the main reasons behind this support for a launch of Amazon Pharmacy.

Among UK customers that are already Amazon Prime users 47% would choose the company’s pharmacy platform for drug purchase. Asked for the reasons why buying their OTC and Rx drugs at Amazon’s new platform, respondents said that especially a delivery free of charge is crucial, followed by price.

Christian Rebholz, Partner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, noted, “Considering these numbers, it can quickly lead to 20 million potential British customers for Amazon Pharmacy in one fell swoop. It would immediately gain a significant market share and be among the top online pharmacies in the UK. Existing platforms and pharmacies must get prepared and find a way to retain their existing customers and take advantage of their omni-channel presence.”

With that being said, there are also reservations about a new market player in such a sensitive sphere. Consumers who are not willing to buy at Amazon Pharmacy highlighted Amazon’s lacking in competency in the area of pharmaceuticals, while also stating loyalty to an existing pharmacy would play a significant role. At the same time, a lack of holistic health cover – including additional services like nutrition, support to quit smoking, and others – would see Amazon Pharmacy lag behind established competitors.