Internet Sales Soar while In-store Stagnates


In-store OTC sales in old Europe may have been flagging for some time, but online turnover is growing, and fast! According to a study released last month by German management consultancy Sempora, online sales of non-Rx meds in Europe are set to double by 2018 to around €5bn. With its relatively restrictive “pharmacy-only” environment, Germany is the 2nd largest market for internet OTCs, just behind the more liberal UK, with the countries expected to contribute €1.6bn and €1.9bn respectively to the European total by 2018.

Heavily discounted prices from online retailers such as Shop-Apotheke and DocMorris are of course a huge draw for consumers, with many premium entries such as Pfizer’s Centrum or Verla Pharm’s Magnesium Verla doing so well online (at least in 2014/15), where the discounts are largest. Internet pharmacies have also boosted their turnovers through persistent advertising of said prices on TV, often backed by budgets from OTC marketers themselves. Indeed many German marketers offer direct links on brand websites to purchase via Shop Apotheke et al. Germany does not allow chain pharmacies, which limits small local operations to store magazines or POS marketing, which seems hardly enough to compete.

Add to this the convenience of home delivery, particularly for the rising number of elderly consumers, not just in Germany, but across Europe, and online purchase seems an obvious choice. And it’s not just VMS and lifestyle products pulling in the growth either – Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT publication showed Germany’s leading cough remedies ACC Akut (Hexal / Novartis) and Mucosolvan (BI) advancing by double digits online in the year to Q2 2015, with the former’s internet turnover equal to almost 20% of in-store sales. For real live pharmacists to compete across the continent, Point-of-Care services need to be stepped up, and fast!

To learn more about trends in Europe and how to build your OTC brand sales in-store or online, join us at our 27th European OTC Conference and Action Workshop from 13-15th April 2016. Contact for details.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s