With an expanding digital economy supported by key infrastructures such as cheap Internet and multiple delivery options, people in Kenya are finding it much easier to order goods and services online.
The acceptance has further been boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic which has pushed different sectors, including health, to accelerate their digital transformation to meet new consumer habits. The global pandemic has come with a surge in telehealth and telemedicine companies with online pharmacies becoming a popular way to purchase medication in Kenya. Besides offering convenience, online pharmacies enhance accessibility to drugs especially for rural folks and this could help save lives.
Business Today caught up with Dr Geoffrey Kiprop who together with Dr David Onamu and Mr Daniel Namanga have recently formed an online pharmacy Pharmily.co.ke through which clients can access quality beauty, health and pharmaceutical products.
Q: Why was Pharmily formed?
Dr Kiprop: We formed Pharmily to offer quality affordable products to our clients at their convenience. There is an acute shortage of quality products in the market. These quality products should be availed at an affordable price to clients at their convenience. The majority of our clients are busy, either working or spending quality time with their families. Our platform saves them time and money by ensuring we deliver the products at their convenience (either in the office or at home). Recently, we noticed we are also enhancing accessibility of select products for our clients in rural areas that cannot access the same in those areas.
Q What did you study in school? Did it contribute to what you are doing now?
Dr Kiprop: I am one of the three co-founders at the company: Dr David Onamu, Mr Daniel Namanga and I. David and I did Bachelor of Pharmacy in college. Our other co-founder has a background in IT. David is so passionate about patient care and medication management therapy. Daniel is our software engineer, building our site to greater heights.
Including the founders, we are a team of eight people. Three ladies, five gentlemen. We will grab any opportunity to balance the gender whenever it will arise. We are a young team; everyone is under 30 years. We sacrificed experience for energy and zeal. We are always working round the clock to see our clients get their orders in time.
Q: Why online pharmacy:
Dr Kiprop: Our clients can save time by purchasing through our online pharmacy. Our prices are better than the brick-and-mortar pharmacies since we are able to cut on costs such as high rental expenditures. Our clients also enjoy the convenience of online shopping. With Pharmily, our clients can place orders 24/7.
Q: Take us through the ordering process to check out
Dr Kiprop: Once you are on our platform, you start by search the item you are looking for. Once you have located it, you add the product on cart, add delivery location, sign up or sign in, complete the checkout process then pay on delivery.
Q: How long does it take for an order to be delivered to a client?
Dr Kiprop: Within Nairobi and its environs, we have select items we deliver within four hours. The rest are within 4-24 hours. Beyond Nairobi, towns like Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa, Kisumu delivery is within a day or two
Q: What does it take to set up an online pharmacy?
Dr Kiprop: First, you need the right people. People who are not only qualified but very passionate about serving our clients. People are the engine of any company, the same applies to the online pharmacy set up. Key people include qualified pharmacists, software engineers, trained beauticians, digital marketers and delivery associates.
Second, you need a platform that could be in the form of a functional website or android application where clients can sign up and place orders.
Third, you need, compliance: Just like any other legal business established in Kenya, you need to abide by the laws of the land. Taxes, business permits and more importantly a license by our Pharma regulator, Pharmacy and Poisons Board. Luckily, we are among the few licensed online pharmacies in the country.
Lastly, you will require financial injection in order to bring everything to fruition.
Q: Are your drugs original and sourced from the right partners?
Dr Kiprop: The right term will be high quality. Original in the Pharmaceutical world means a molecule under patent. Once the patent expires, and other pharmaceutical companies are allowed to produce the product, it is known as a generic product. Whether a product is generic or original does not mirror its quality. Quality is attained by high-quality manufacturing process adherence. We evaluate, source and deliver such products to our clients.
Q: What have you learned so far about Kenyan’s online shopping habits?
Dr Kiprop: It is hard to satisfy clients’ needs. Which is always a good thing. They are always demanding better and better services. They want better prices, shorter delivery time, and more value. This means we will always be on our toes!
Q: What is the upside and downside of operating an online pharmacy in Kenya?
Dr Kiprop: Online pharmacy practice in Kenya is still at the developing stage. This is both an upside and a downside. Upside because there is huge potential ahead, and a con because the structures are not well defined unlike in the non-online businesses.
Q: What do you hope to achieve this year?
Dr Kiprop: Expand our coverage to each and every part of Kenya. We already improved our product portfolio, but we hope to add more product lines to ensure our clients get diverse products. Products will only be added if they meet our quality criteria. In the pipeline, we have a plan for having under three hours delivery in Nairobi for select products.
I will urge everyone to check out our site, Pharmily.co.ke and place an order from us. We will be more than glad to fulfill their orders.