The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed both the world and how companies conduct business, especially regarding how pharmacies are shipping pharmaceuticals. With the dispensing volume of e-commerce pharmacies growing by 45% in 2020 alone, as the PharmaceuticalJournal points out, pharmacies have quickly adopted an online approach to handling the ever-growing demand. Disruptions in the shipping industry, marked by tight capacity and upward pricing pressure forced pharmaceutical shippers to implement more agile and effective means of distribution, resulting in the integration of shipping technology to optimize shipping flows, reduce overall costs, & improve customer experience.
1. The Disruptions of the Past Year Emphasized the Need for More Flexible, Agile Pharmacies
As the pandemic presented many unprecedented challenges to businesses, companies shipping pharmaceuticals have now begun to realize the dire need for agile and adaptable operations within their supply chain. Many fundamental changes have occurred to combat the crisis and take the first step on the road to recovery. Pharmacies have begun to adopt an online approach, focusing on consumer-centric wants and needs. Patients want convenience at the mouse click of a button or screen, and the pharmaceutical sector realizes this. Thus, the implementation of online ordering has become a prominent solution that provides the customer with suitable accessibility.
2. Pharmaceuticals Are High-Value and Require Intensive Data Tracking to Ensure Stability, Viability
The business of shipping pharmaceuticals involves the transportation of high-value medication that requires the most accurate up-to-date data. To ensure that this particular type of product is delivered successfully, thorough data tracking and logistics analytics are essential. Knowing other details such as the latest product and pricing information, pharmacy inventory, and drug purchase history of the consumer aids companies in mitigating mistakes, ensuring stability. Further, having visibility to hubs with higher late percentages than others allows shippers to plan around underperforming hubs to get life-saving equipment and drugs to their customers. The more vital information is available to both the distributor and patient, the better.
3. Why and How the E-Commerce Explosion Carried Over Into Pharmacies
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online pharmacies that specialize in shipping pharmaceuticals grew exponentially in 2020. To adapt to unpredictable circumstances, many companies and shippers have integrated advantageous e-commerce solutions. It turns out that customers crave the convenience of modern methods and ultimately the option to choose how they receive their orders—whether end-consumers order online and have it shipped to a physical address or order online for in-store pickup. Customers have favored distance-selling pharmacies that offer an electronic prescription service (EPS), enabling prescribers to send prescriptions to a local pharmacy of the patient’s choosing.
4. Capture Data to Keep Carriers Accountable for Failures, Including Submitting Claims for Lost Product or Damage While Shipping Pharmaceuticals
Shipping pharmaceuticals requires absolute delivery accuracy to ensure that the patient receives the proper order at the correct right time. To aid these urgencies and hold carriers accountable for failures, many shippers have incorporated shipping analytics for order status tracking and robust reporting. If the carrier fails in the last part of the order fulfillment process, the customer ultimately suffers. Tools such as these mitigate the risk of failure and provide solutions for lost or damaged products. For example, as carrier late percentages increase, particularly in a capacity tight environment, and the need for customers to receive their packages the next day, it is important to file for guaranteed service refunds (GSRs) through an automated time-efficient system to reduce total transportation costs on high-value priority shipments.
5. Use Data and Analytics to Optimize Spend Management for Rising Shipping Costs and Compliance Fees
The purchasing of online medication and shipping pharmaceuticals has skyrocketed because of the novel coronavirus. This subsequently has opened up room for fraudulent medication and illegitimate e-pharmacies. Examples include fake COVID medication with no real backing of health professionals and false overnight cures for other illnesses. Many distributors in the grey market come from overseas, as medication is easily accessible online. Although organizations such as the FDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection help protect against these types of frauds, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical distributors must work together and stay vigilant against the exposure to counterfeit items to improve the customer experience.
If companies do not keep compliance and adherence to various regulations and rules top of mind, they could incur additional fees, adding to the overall cost of doing business as an online pharmacy. In addition to higher shipping costs as capacity remains tight in all shipping modes, these added costs will hurt the bottom line and hamper growth. Executives, particularly in e-commerce pharmacy businesses, must do all they can to keep operations smooth and root out costs. Companies like CVS know the importance of keeping costs in check, particularly around shipping cost optimization, referred to as transportation spend management. CVS turned to Intelligent Audit as a partner for transportation spend management, utilizing Intelligent Audit’s business intelligence and analytics platform to capture an eye-popping figure of $9 million annual savings in shipping spend, while also seeing a reduction in cost-per-package of $1.50 within six months.
Data and analytics will aid pharmaceutical shippers in seeing their entire operations and when applied in shipping allows a data-driven, insight-rich approach to keeping the bottom line healthy.
Be Ready to Continue Shipping Pharmaceuticals With the Right Data and FBAP Partner
As e-commerce pharmacies continue to play a vital role in today’s supply chain, shipping pharmaceuticals will always require flexible options that fit the consumers’ wants and needs. To achieve a successful order fulfillment, high-value data tracking is essential in ensuring viability. Start thriving today with the right tools and freight audit and payment system. Request a consultation with Intelligent Audit to improve your accountability when transporting pharmaceuticals today.