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Saturday, 26 November 2016

How this 20-year-old company crafted a niche for itself in online pharmacy

Zota Healthcare launches an online pharmacy platform which sells nutraceuticals, ayurvedic and cosmetics products.

In this world of rapid technological development, no business can afford to remain conventional. They have to adopt the online position if they want to remain valid in this age. When Flipkart introduced the country to a new way of shopping — via the internet — many followed suit.

Himanshu Zota
As the years went by, several old businesses also opened their online stores, succumbing to the new choice of consumer shopping. Aditya Birla launched Abof.com and Tata opened Tatacliq.com, and several other traditional business giants have followed their lead.

While the fashion industry has shown the greatest adaptability in the present scenario, other businesses have also witnessed the change and are working to adapt to the new age of the buying and selling of products.

Himanshu Zota, Director, Zota Healthcare, a two-decade old pioneer in the world of manufacturing and selling medicines, observed the changing market and thought of launching a niche online platform.

He observed that the nutraceutical market was witnessing a rapid growth due to consumers’ increasing inclination towards healthy and nutritional food, dietary supplements and beverages. Dietary supplements are consumed not only to meet the required daily intake of nutrition, but also to boost physical performance. All of these factors have changed the nutraceutical market considerably and are expected to propel the market in the next few years. Himanshu noticed the similar inclination of consumers towards Ayurvedic and cosmetic products.

In June 2016, he launched Nutravedic, an e-commerce healthcare portal. “Our product range is a combination of varied nutraceutical, ayurvedic and herbal products. The wide array of products consists of relief therapies, protein powders, multivitamin supplements and a few other patented products that help in healing many diseases and maintaining natural body processes. The Nutravedic range includes various ayurvedic and herbal products, which are tried, tested and appreciated by many users, with no side-effects,” says Himanshu.

Growth, step by step

Nutravedic is backed by strong financial support, with Zota Healthcare being its core investor.

Himanshu infused Rs 40 lakh into the venture as an initial investment, which went into product manufacturing, website building and marketing.

In its first two months, the platform ran on a trial basis, where it faced many technical glitches. It was not actively promoted at that time.

The promotion part took off aggressively in August. The platform has been educating people about their health. It is also connecting with consumers through its smart social media campaigns, informing them about their products and the benefits of consuming them.

In the past three months, the platform claims to have had 14,000 downloads on android. Himanshu says that they clock 30 orders a day, with an average ticket size of Rs 500. Nutravedic has around 50 products listed on its platform across all its three categories.

Himanshu plans to expand the product base to 250 items soon. In the next few years, he also aims to target over 10 lakh customers, clocking around 500 orders a day.

Nutraceutical, a niche segment 

The global nutraceuticals market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.3 percent between 2015 and 2021, according to Transparency Market Research. This market was already valued at $182.6 billion in 2015, which means that it can go up to $279 billion by the end of 2021.

Himanshu says that India is observing the rise of the category in a similar way to the other countries of the world. He says that as the world market grows, so will the Indian market.

According to him, though there are various other online platforms, he sees little competition. He says that while other platforms are selling all kinds of medicines, his business is very niche.


A look at online pharmacy


Over the past couple of months, there have been several online pharmacy and e-pharmacy startups. These include NetMeds, which raised $50 million from OrbiMed, mChemist, started by the ex-president of Ranbaxy, Medd, DeliMedi, CareOnGo and MediDali and now, even the Sequoia-backed Practo.

During April this year, 1mg, the digital healthcare platform, raised Rs 100 crore in a Series B investment led by Maverick Capital Ventures, along with participation from existing investors Sequoia India and Omidyar Network.

According to experts, the online pharmacy has, in the past, faced some troubles owing to government regulations. However, they have since learnt to work under the said rules and have shown immense growth.

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