The healthcare industry in India is constantly evolving, and in recent years, it has experienced a significant transformation which is driven by technological advancements and shifts in consumer behavior. This has led to a wave of disruption and created new opportunities for healthcare brands and retailers. Let’s delve into the current scenario in healthcare sector and explore the challenges and opportunities faced by e-commerce healthcare sellers in India.
Healthcare Landscape: The Current Scenario
In today’s healthcare landscape, there are several notable trends and developments that are shaping the industry. One of the key drivers of change is the rapid growth of telemedicine and the widespread use of health and wellness apps. The online space has emerged as a powerful platform, enabling pharma, healthcare, and wellness brands to reach a wider audience across India. Notable players such as Netmeds, Healthkart, 1mg, PharmEasy, and many others have played an important role in this digital revolution.
The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the trend of people prioritizing their health and overall well-being; this led to the popularity of nutraceutical brands like Oziva, Kapiva, Plix, Power Gummies, Fast and Up, and more. According to Invest India, the Indian healthcare market is projected to reach US$ 50 bn by 2030 and is expected to expand further. This means it’s the right time for retailers to capitalize on this opportunity and streamline their operations.
Healthcare Industry in India: The Growth Drivers
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Utilizing RPA in the Indian healthcare industry enhances workforce efficiency, drives cost reduction, and generates a compelling value proposition.
- Shifting Disease Burden: The healthcare sector in India is facing a significant burden due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which account for 50% of the disease burden and 60% of all deaths. However, there are positive developments and initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges and driving growth in the industry.
- Policy Support & Incentives: Policy support and incentives play a crucial role in promoting healthcare industry growth. The Indian government has allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in Greenfield and Brownfield projects, while also taking measures to correct unfavorable duty structures. Additionally, a single window clearance e-portal has been introduced to improve ease of doing business.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan – Self Reliant India: Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self-Reliant India), a comprehensive package of INR 20 lakh crore has been allocated to promote manufacturing in the country. This initiative aims to strengthen the healthcare industry and support its growth.
- Insurance Coverage: Insurance coverage is gradually increasing in India, with 20% of the population currently covered. As incomes rise and urbanization continues, it is expected that more individuals will have access to insurance, further bolstering the healthcare market.
- Emergence of Telemedicine: The emergence of telemedicine has been a game-changer, providing convenient and accessible healthcare services. Government initiatives like e-health, combined with tax benefits and incentives, are driving the adoption and growth of telemedicine in India.
- Medical Infrastructure: Significant investments are being made in medical infrastructure, with over $200 billion expected to be spent by 2024. This investment will contribute to improving healthcare facilities and expanding access to quality care across the country.
Overall, with the integration of RPA, policy support, increasing insurance coverage, telemedicine advancements, and investments in medical infrastructure, the healthcare industry in India is poised for enhanced efficiency, reduced costs, and a promising value proposition.
However, e-commerce healthcare sellers in India face numerous challenges, particularly in the operational aspects of their business, such as warehouse management, inventory control, and the ability to sell seamlessly on multiple marketplaces. So let’s get started with the warehousing challenges and their solutions in the healthcare industry!
5 Major Warehouse Management Challenges in Healthcare Industry in India
Here are five significant challenges that the healthcare industry faces in terms of managing its warehouse:
1. Ensuring Optimal Stock Control: Inventory Management
Healthcare warehouses often deal with a wide range of products, including medications, medical supplies, equipment, and consumables. Each item has its own unique requirements, and failing to effectively monitor and control inventory can lead to stockouts, excess inventory, expired products, and increased costs. Striking the right balance between stock availability and minimizing excess inventory is crucial to avoid financial losses. Especially for the healthcare industry, where products have expiration dates and strict regulatory requirements, maintaining optimal stock control can be challenging.
Solution: Warehouse managers need to accurately forecast demand, monitor inventory levels, and implement efficient replenishment processes to prevent stockouts or excess inventory. With a well-designed inventory management system, you can effectively manage inventory and meet the demands of this dynamic industry.
2. Preserving Product Integrity: Storage and Temperature Management
The success of healthcare and wellness products heavily relies on their ability to maintain optimal quality throughout their lifecycle. Healthcare products are often sensitive to storage conditions, including temperature and humidity. Some drugs require specific storage conditions, such as refrigeration or controlled room temperature, to maintain their potency and efficacy. Maintaining appropriate storage conditions is essential to preserve product integrity and ensure patient safety.
Solution: Healthcare and wellness companies and distributors should establish robust storage management systems. For example, various products require specific storage conditions, such as room temperature or low-temperature environments. To effectively manage these requirements, a system should be implemented to quickly identify and segregate each batch based on its specific storage needs. The products should be stored in a way that allows for easy identification and access while minimizing the risk of temperature fluctuations.
3. Expiry Management: Ensuring Product Shelf Life
One of the significant challenges faced by healthcare brands is effectively managing product expiry dates. Healthcare products have limited shelf lives due to factors such as stability, potency, and regulatory requirements. Failing to monitor and address product expiry can lead to significant financial losses and potential risks to patient health if expired products are distributed.
Solution: Warehouse managers need to have a robust expiry management system that includes regular monitoring of product expiration dates, proper rotation of stock, and batch tracking for quick identification of expiration dates. Stock rotation methods like first-in, first-out (FIFO) or first-expired, first-out (FEFO) facilitate the timely removal and disposal of expired products. Also, implementing a batch-tracking system enables the association of specific products with their respective batches or lots. This allows for easy identification and traceability of products throughout their lifecycle.
4. Efficient Order Fulfillment: Pick, Pack, and Ship Processes
Accurate and efficient order fulfillment is crucial in healthcare warehouse management to ensure the timely delivery of products. This involves picking the right products from the inventory, packing them securely, and shipping them to the correct destinations. With a wide range of products and varying order volumes, optimizing these processes can be challenging.
Solution: A robust e-commerce order management system can help streamline the picking process by providing real-time visibility into inventory and automating order tracking. Dhani, a digital financial and healthcare services company, successfully tackled a similar issue by adopting a robust Unicommerce system, which helped them achieve an order fulfillment rate of over 99.99%.
5. Tracking Every Product: Traceability and Serialization
To ensure safety, combat damaged products, and comply with regulations, healthcare companies must track every product throughout the supply chain. Traceability involves documenting the movement of healthcare products from the moment they are received as goods until any potential returns, while serialization assigns a unique identification code to each product unit for traceability and authentication.
Solution: Implementing a robust warehouse management system (WMS) using technologies like barcode scanning and item-level traceability for product verification can provide real-time visibility and prevent the dispatch of damaged or expired products. Notable brands like Kapiva, PharmEasy, and Cureka are leveraging technology solutions like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Order Management Systems (OMS), and others to achieve operational excellence.
Let’s Conquer Healthcare Warehousing Excellence!
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges for effective warehousing operations. However, using a robust Warehouse Management System (WMS) solution can help healthcare companies effectively overcome the challenges they face in warehousing operations. These solutions not only provide powerful integrations but also simplifies order processing across multiple marketplaces, paving the way for warehousing excellence!
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