E-Commerce: A level playing field for online and physical sales of self-care products

Brussels, 14 June 2023 – AESGP has published its position on the digital transformation of the retail sector. In a comprehensive analysis, AESGP highlights the benefits and challenges associated with online sales of self-care products. AESGP presents a visionary roadmap for the future, with a series of recommendations to ensure that people can benefit from consistent quality and safety standards, whether they choose online suppliers or traditional stores.

Since the beginning, e-commerce channels have seen a steady increase in the number of visitors, further boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. E-commerce for self-care products is no exception, growing faster than the retail market as a whole.

The rise of e-commerce has improved access and competitiveness for retailers, but it also poses a number of new challenges. As people increasingly buy self-care products online, there is an urgent need to address issues such as replicating the invaluable (face-to-face) advice of a pharmacist and ensuring the sustainability of channels and environment.

More synergies between online and brick-and-mortar stores

E-commerce offers people the considerable advantage of being able to choose, compare and buy the self-care products they need, without having to visit a physical point of sale and its limited stock. On the other hand, traditional outlets such as pharmacies offer immediate access to products in case of urgency, as well as qualified health advice at the point of sale, which is difficult to replicate in today’s e-commerce world.

To address some of these challenges, AESGP has made a number of recommendations to the key players involved. When implemented, these measures maximise the potential of the various channels and empower people to better care for their health in a sustainable way.

Regulatory frameworks are struggling to keep pace with a moving target

The online sale of self-care products is permitted in the European Union, but regulations remain a national competence, resulting in significant differences in the market. Regulatory frameworks are struggling to keep pace with the evolution of online business models, new storage and delivery models, changing individual needs and the digitalisation of the self-care industry and society.

With this report, AESGP aims to pave the way for a harmonious coexistence between different distribution channels for the benefit of people’s self-care needs. The self-care industry is committed to working hand-in-hand with regulators and other stakeholders to ensure a safe e-commerce environment for all, which will enable people to take greater responsibility for their health and well-being, whatever distribution channel they choose.



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