‘How I created the award-winning PharmaPlace to help pharmacies embrace their retail offering’
By bringing hundreds of independent suppliers together, PharmaPlace aims to help pharmacies differentiate themselves in the retail market and diversify their income streams in the process
What goes into creating an award-winning pharmacy online marketplace? A background in investment banking and heading up oil and gas companies might not immediately spring to mind.
But for Romil Patel, the December 2020 launch of PharmaPlace – which was crowned Online Initiative of the Year at the C+D Awards 2021 – wasn’t a complete baptism of fire, after a childhood spent in community pharmacies.
Listen to the full interview:
“My family have always owned pharmacies for the past 40 years, so I grew up in and around the pharmacy shop floor from a very young age,” Romil tells C+D.
With school and bank holidays spent “entertaining myself” in the pharmacy, “I guess that's where the understanding of the trade kind of rubbed off on me”, Romil adds, “and why I eventually returned to it after I left banking”.
Romil returned to help his parents out just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and was working in the pharmacy during that time when he spotted a gap in the market.
"Contacting and setting up accounts with more than 200 suppliers is a huge amount of work..."
“Our pharmacy was 70% retail and only 30% scripts. So, it's very different to how most pharmacies are, [but] my family have always had very heavy retail pharmacies.
“My parents were contacting and buying [products] from more than 200 different suppliers. It was a huge amount of work for them to find new, innovative products, get the accounts and order from so many sources,” Romil explains.
“I thought I'd build PharmaPlace to bring as many of the top independent suppliers as I could to one site.”
PharmaPlace has attracted more than 550 pharmacies since its official launch, and gives users access to more than 160 independent, diverse brands in one place.
Testimonials show pharmacies have overhauled their OTC offering, driving sales and profits, thanks to the PharmaPlace platform. The business shows no sign of slowing down, as Romil admits he has received several calls and enquiries since picking up his C+D Award.
“It was a complete honour to win the C+D 2021 Online Initiative of the Year Award. I mean, you can see the banner proudly splashed across our homepage,” Romil says.
“It’s helped us achieve credibility as a platform…the recognition is huge.”
Listen to the full podcast interview above to hear:
What went into setting up a new business during a global pandemic
How brands and suppliers are chosen to appear on PharmaPlace
Why pharmacies should embrace their retail offering
How pharmacies can utilise their “most expensive asset” – the pharmacist – more effectively