How To Start An Online Pharmacy In South Africa

This article contains comprehensive information on how to start an online pharmacy business in South Africa currently in this year 2022. In the country today, many online businesses are springing up almost on a daily basis and this is because the Internet space is a vast world where many people connect almost instantaneously for many reasons of which business plays a significant role, and seeing that the Internet offers a lot when it comes to business reach, many people are taking advantage of it to set up their online store and the pharmaceutical business is not left out.

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If you will like to set up your own online pharmacy store in South Africa today and you do not know how to go about it, but you are currently reading this, then you are at the right place as this article will serve as a guide on what you should do in order to set up your online pharmacy store business without any stress. All we ask is that you read carefully and follow the necessary steps but before that, let us take a quick look at the different types of online pharmacy stores there are on the Internet space. Kindly continue reading to know more.


There are two types of online pharmacy stores in South Africa today, and they include: online pharmacy stores that deal on only over the counter (OTC) drugs, and those that sell both OTC and ethical drugs (drugs that are sold to a patient only by the written prescription from a medical doctor or dentist).


Online pharmacy stores are easily accessible as long as there’s good Internet connection just by the click of the button on your mobile device from the comfort of your home, and you are certain of getting the drugs you ordered online delivered to your doorstep. Also, even without leaving the confines of your home, you can make enquiries on which online pharmacy has the product you are looking for, and compare their prices online before making your purchases. This will save you the time and stress of walking here and there looking for offline pharmacies that are far apart in case you do not get the product you are looking at one of them. You can even get free consultation, book lab tests, and do more on online pharmacy websites.


If you want to start your online pharmacy store unhindered in South Africa this 2022, you will have to register with the Pharmacists Council of South Africa (PCN) as Community pharmacies do. In order to register an online pharmacy store in the country today, you must have a registered physical offline store with the PCN. You must do this so that you do not enter into any kind of trouble with the main pharmacy regulatory body in South Africa, and you can determine on your website if a buyer/patient can come around to your offline store to pick up their drugs purchased online or if it will be done via delivery. This feature/option should be made available on your online pharmacy website.

After registering with the PCN, it is very important that your offline store is well stocked up with drugs that are not expired so that you do not have issues with NAFDAC, and that the medicines are arranged in an orderly, easily accessible manner. Your drug store must be very neat and well painted with white as the preferable colour, and it must be well air conditioned too, to keep the drugs in an atmosphere with the right temperature.

Ensure to locate the offline address of your online pharmacy store at a very good location where you can get customers very frequently in order to boost sales to your immediate and surrounding environment, and as with any other business venture, do not skip the process of developing a business plan/feasibility study and raising the required capital for this business. Also ensure that you register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission of South Africa (CAC) and the Pharmacists Council of South Africa (PCN), and wait till you get approved before launching your business live.

Once your approval has been given, you can source for competent distributors that will provide you with every drug supply that you may need for your business to stand going forward and never forget to advertise your online pharmacy business through social media platforms and other advertising means so as to reach a wide number of people and get them to know about your business. If social media limits your reach, you can develop a blog section for your online pharmacy website where you can discuss in detail about your pharmacy and products so that your audience can be enlightened even further to take action where necessary, and for your audience to take action, the design of your online pharmacy store website must be easy to use.

Your website should also be designed to handle prescription, and it should be very easy to upload prescription sheets or receive prescriptions electronically. Ensure that there is a registered pharmacist on ground to attend to the prescription needs as well as counseling of visitors.

Some of the designs that should be incorporated into your online pharmacy website are as follows:

  • The search option is very necessary so that visitors online can type the drug they are looking for and see if such medicines are available
  • Another important feature is the auto complete feature that helps to predict user intent
  • Typo tolerance should also be incorporated to your online pharmacy website so as to predict to the nearest answer that the visitors is searching for after clicking search. Because errors are bound to occur and many visitors do not know the correct spelling of certain drug names, that is why this feature is very necessary for your online pharmacy website.
  • You can incorporate search by active ingredients or symptoms. This is very helpful on an online pharmacy store website where a visitor can be shown the products they searched for.
  • Also, as you advance in your business, a mobile app will be necessary for your online pharmacy store business to keep your users even closer.

Starting an online pharmacy in South Africa can be a profitable venture, especially with the rise in the use of technology and the internet. To ensure that you start on the right foot, here are some steps to follow:

Step Description
1 Research and obtain necessary licenses and permits: Before starting your online pharmacy, conduct research to learn about the different licenses and permits required in South Africa. This will include registering with the South African Pharmacy Council and obtaining a pharmacy license from the Medicines Control Council.
2 Create a business plan: Your business plan should outline your objectives and goals, identify your target market, and describe your marketing and sales strategies. Consider factors such as your pricing strategy, delivery options, and customer service approach when drafting your plan.
3 Build and design your online pharmacy: You can either build your online pharmacy from scratch or use a pre-designed platform to make things easier. Ensure that your site is user-friendly, accessible, and secure. Consider incorporating online payment options for ease of transactions.
4 Stock your pharmacy: Decide on the products you will sell and ensure that you obtain them from trusted suppliers, considering quality and affordability. Keep a sufficient inventory of drugs and other products.
5 Promote and market your online pharmacy: Consider using social media, paid advertising, and email marketing to reach your target audience. Ensure that your marketing strategy adheres to the relevant advertising regulations.


Starting an online pharmacy in South Africa requires ample research, licensing and permits, a solid business plan, an accessible and user-friendly website, reliable suppliers, and effective marketing strategies to reach your target audience. It’s important to ensure regulatory compliance and customer safety when dealing with pharmaceutical products.

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