Customer is the King

Online pharmacy

“In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”- Doug Warner

I`ll start this article with a question, what`s the first word that comes in your mind when I say ‘Big Billion Day’? If you are going to answer this question with negative words such as fraud, cheating, fake discounts, e-commerce lies etc then probably you are a disgruntled customer who expected a lot from Flipkart`s ‘Big Billion Day‘.

Indian E-commerce giant, Flipkart decided to celebrate 6 October, 2014 as ‘Big Billion Day’ and promised the greatest sale with unbeatable offers, discount, deals and surprises. For many Indians, 6 October was claimed to be the Black Friday that they have been waiting for a long time. For small E-commerce entrepreneurs like me, 6 October was expected to be the start of a golden era and we believed that everything is going to change now, Indian consumers` mindset, perception towards online shopping, knowledge about E-commerce business etc. But we all were wrong!

Since its inception Flipkart has been growing steadily and recently raised $1B hoping to win the e-commerce battle in India against Snapdeal and Amazon. To get money from customers` pocket early before festive season starts, and to acquire more customers than competition during the festive season, Flipkart came up with the ‘Big Billion Day’ idea.

However, even before the sale began, controversy mounted as people realized that the prices of most of the products have been increased back to the MRP instead of the actual selling price – to compensate the huge discounts and products were costlier than the regular days.

Worse was that Flipkart was struggling to keep up with the high demands. Products were sold out in a matter of seconds, which shows just how limited the sales really were. Another big issue was the number of technical problems users were facing. People wanting to buy, and those having bought products on Flipkart during the Big Billion Day repeatedly had to deal with issues such as ‘Server Breakdown‘, in addition to the unrealistic discounts and auto-cancellation of orders.

Even though Flipkart announced revenue of $100 Million on the day of the sale but it left customers with disappointment, frustration, and distrust. There were many first-time online shoppers who had never trusted the online shopping before; there were many who had never heard about Flipkart before but now they knew about it and were amazed to see advertisements showing 90% discounts; there were many who had bad experiences with online shopping in the past and wanted to give it another try; and there were many who wanted to give a supporting hand to home-grown dreamers, Bansals.

And then there were small e-commerce entrepreneurs who believed that this day will break all the barriers and myths that people have in their minds regarding online shopping. We believed that Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal will pave a way for budding Indian entrepreneurs like me.

Going forward, Indian consumer will have difficulty trusting another e-commerce company, another breakthrough promise and another genuine offer. You not only did hurt your credibility but also damaged trust that Indian consumers were gradually putting in the online shopping.

I appeal to E-commerce giants such as Snapdeal, Healthkart, Amazon, Myntra etc. to be honest and genuine to the customer. Now-a-days customers are very skeptical as well as intelligent. By maneuvering numbers and showing catchy advertisement, you can win them for a short period of time but will lose in longer run. Brand royalty is the thing of past; you can only win their hearts by providing the best services with honest efforts.

Well what`s done is done but now it`s time to fix it.

LET`S FIX IT and take a vow to put customers before stakeholders and financial charts!

LET`S FIX IT and take a vow to focus on building credibility and customer relationship than revenue!

LET`S FIX IT and take a vow that we`ll never doubt customers` intelligence and manipulate discounts!

References:

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/10/08/flipkarts-big-billion-day-sale-prompts-big-apology/

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/analysing-deal-behind-flipkarts-big-billion-day-sale-1468884

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/news/flipkart-big-billion-day-sale-riddled-with-problems-602498

WHY GENERIC DRUGS ARE CHEAPER THAN THEIR BRAND NAME COUNTERPARTS?

Online Generic Medicines

A medicine that’s discovered, developed and marketed by a pharmaceutical company is known by its brand name. A newly discovered drug or medicine is given a brand name by its manufacturer and this name is exclusively reserved for this manufacturer. A newly discovered drug has two names: a generic name-it’s the drug’s common scientific name and a brand name-it represents the drug in the market as well as works as an identity for common people.

When a pharmaceutical company discovers and markets a new drug, it receives a patent on this new drug. The patent persists for a predefined time period, usually 17 – 20 years, depending on the drug’s molecule, to give the corresponding company a chance to recover its research and first time development investment. Furthermore, the time period for the patents applies from well before clinical trials have begun testing the safety and effectiveness of the medicine. After the patent expires, a generic version of the drug may become available. The same company that makes the brand name drug or a different company may produce the generic version of the medicine.

A generic drug has a similar chemical composition or drug formulation as of its brand name counterpart that acts on the body with the same strength and absorption process as that of the brand-name drug. So, the generic version of a drug is the bioequivalent of its brand-name counterpart, meaning there is either no considerable variation between the two drugs in terms of the rate and extent of absorption or if there is a variation, it is either intended or medically insignificant.

The generic drug must inhibit the following similarities with its brand name counterpart:- 

  • It must contain the same active ingredients (active ingredients are the chemical substances that make the drug work).
  • It must be the same dosage type (that is, it needs to be available in the same form as the branded drug—for example, as a pill, syrup, capsule etc.).
  • It must have the same dosage strength (the quantity of active ingredients, for example 10 mg or 20 mg).
  • It must have the same route of administration (the way the medication is introduced into the body).
  • It must convey the same amounts of the drug to the bloodstream (that is, it needs to deliver an equivalent amount of the drug into the bloodstream within a similar time period as the brand name drug).

Following differences may also exist between the generic drug and its corresponding branded drug:-

  • They look different i.e. they could have different sizes, shapes, colors or markings.
  • Drugs are made up of both active and inactive ingredients. They might have distinct inactive ingredients. Some people may be sensitive to inactive ingredients also. For example, some people have allergic reactions to certain dyes or flavors used in some drugs.
  • The generic drugs cost less than their corresponding brand name drugs.
  • Generic drugs vary by manufacturer, which means that we can receive different versions based on where we purchase our medications and what type of generic they dispense.

WHY GENERIC DRUGS ARE CHEAPER THAN THEIR BRAND NAME COUNTERPARTS?

Most of the reasons for why generic drugs are less expensive than their brand name counterparts are as follows:-

  • One of the main reasons is research and development costs. The pharmaceutical companies producing the generic drugs have much lower expenses than the companies that produce the branded drugs. This is because of the fact that drug research is costly and creation of a drug can consume many years- costs that generic manufacturers do not have. Once a company creates the drug, it must accomplish expensive clinical trials to ensure that the drug is safe and efficient. So, by the time a brand-name drug gets an approval from FDA, the drug company has already spent millions. Generic drug manufacturers don’t have to bear these costs encountered while developing a new drug. For generic drug manufacturers, the drug’s formula is known, the clinical trials are complete, and these are investing only on the production of the medication, so they can afford to sell the medicine at low prices.
  • Another main reason is marketing. Brand-name manufacturers spend loads of amount in marketing new drugs to doctors and the public. They try different tactics for providing a place to their drug in the market. The brand name manufacturing firms send their representatives to visit the doctors in their clinics and various hospitals; these companies also invest on arranging the conferences to talk about their drugs with other doctors. Generic manufacturers rarely spend money on advertising and marketing. Generic drug companies also receive the benefit of the previous marketing efforts made by the brand-name drug company, including media advertising, presentations by drug representatives, and distribution of free samples. Most of the drugs introduced by generic manufacturers have already been on the market for a decade or more (the time period for which the patent was valid), and may already be well known to patients and providers.
  • Competition among the generic drug producers also keep the costs down. Once generic drugs are approved, multiple companies begin producing and selling the drugs. Due to this, the competition grows, which keeps the price

Generic drugs are cheaper than their brand-name counterparts and have the same safety, effectiveness and active ingredient, but people still take brand-name drugs. This panorama is because of the following reasons:-

  • Basically, it’s marketing. Branded drugs are known to common people. Generic drugs are sold under their scientific names – less or not known by common public. Also, if a patient is finally on a drug that works, he might be less likely to switch to the generic version for fear of losing the effect of the drug. Advertising can push patients to take more expensive, newer drugs, when lower-cost generics would work just as well.
  • There are inactive ingredients in generic drugs that can be different from those in their brand-name counterparts. They don’t affect the way the drug works, but they can make it look and taste different, making people wonder if the cheaper drug has left something out.
  • Another reason is that doctors don’t prescribe generic drugs in India. A study conducted by Maulana Azad Medical College’s pharmacology department at DDU revealed that only 35% prescriptions stated drugs by their generic names. The rest advised costlier, branded versions. In the US, almost 80% prescriptions name generic drugs. In UK, the generic prescription rate is 82%.
  • The thinking that generic drugs are manufactured in poorer-quality facilities or are inferior in quality to brand-name drugs also trim down their acceptance by the people. The same standards are applied by the FDA for all drug manufacturing facilities, and many companies manufacture both brand-name and generic drugs under same conditions. In fact, as estimated by FDA, 50% of generic drug production is by brand-name companies.
  • Another common disbelief is that generic drugs take longer to work. But it’s just a disbelief and generic drugs work as fast and as effectively as the original brand-name products as the chemical composition or the active ingredient is the same in both the drugs.

So, it’s the need of the hour that generic drug manufactures spread awareness and promote the usage of generic drugs among people as well as people also open their brains towards the use of generic medicines.

References: www.medicinenet.comwww.healthsmart.comwww.fda.govhttp://www.canadiangenerics.ca