Pune, a major industrial centre, is the second-largest city (after Mumbai) in Maharashtra. Pune is regarded as an automobile hub due to the presence of several manufacturing units. The city also has a significant presence of IT (Information technology) companies and startups. In addition, a large number of educational institutions and research institutes located there attract students from all over India and other countries.
Along with its neighbourhood urban centres, the city has a population of around 7.5 million. Several medical distributors in Pune cater to the large local population's needs and feed several adjacent district markets.
Before we look at some of the city-based Pharma distributors, let us first find the difference between a distributor and a wholesaler. Both the terms are commonly used when referring to the distribution setup of companies.
A Distributor vs a Wholesaler
To begin with, the functions of a distributor and wholesaler are similar. But, in addition, neither of them deal directly with the consumer.
Next, both (distributor/wholesaler) pick up stocks from the manufacturers and sell them to the retailers or stockists. Typically a consumer products manufacturer follows a two / three-tier distribution structure to reach the ultimate consumer. However, the choice of the network, two or three-level, is purely driven by the manufacturing company's policy/strategy.
Medicines and other medical products (devices, consumables) require a wide distribution to make the items readily available to people at times of need. Therefore, many Pharma manufacturers use both a distributor and a wholesaler for faster and deeper market penetration.
A distributor deals with the company (or the company’s C&F agent) directly and is the first point in the distribution channel. The wholesaler buys the stocks from the distributor and, in turn, sells to the stockist or retailer. Both the distributor and the wholesaler will have specific territory/area of operation. Generally, a distributor will have a larger area to service.
Therefore, some companies may take the distributor-stockist route in the market, while others may stick to a more rigid distributor –wholesaler –retailer structure. Finally, a few more may follow the Wholesaler – Retailer channel.
Medical Distributors in Pune
Many distributors operate in the sectors of pharmaceuticals, consumables and medical devices. These distributors cover almost all Pharma brands. The Sadashiv Peth area of Pune can be termed as the virtual medicine hub, with several distributors located within close vicinity.
Medical Distributors: The Service factor
Today, service is the differentiator in most businesses. Meeting on-time customer demand efficiently will help a medical distributor stay ahead of the competition. Inventory and accounts are two critical areas to focus on for a pharmaceutical distributor in Pune or anywhere else.
Digital accounts help a business keep track of all receivables (and payables) simply and efficiently. Among various digital accounting packages available in the market, the Digital Udhar Bahi Khata from OK Credit is particularly suitable for small businesses. For example, a medical distributor can manage receivables/payables easily, efficiently and safely with the Digital Udhar app from OK Credit.
The facility comes in several customer-friendly local languages. Payment reminders on SMS /Whatsapp make the collection (of receivables) so much simpler. Furthermore, negotiating a business loan is more manageable with digital accounts as the firm is continuously updated on its account status.
The sizable medical ecosystem (of Pune) comprises hospitals, doctors, health workers, Pharma manufacturers, channel partners, and the medical distributors of Pune. A high level of competition in the trade keeps the distributors on their toes and helps upgrade service offerings. The retailers, in turn, have regular supplies enabling them (retailers) to meet the critical needs of customers/patients.
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Q. As a present stockist of medicines, can I become a wholesaler?
Ans. You start with the advantage of being in the medicine trade. However, the functions of a wholesaler are pretty different from a stockist’s role. Besides arranging for funds (depending on the scale of business and place), you must possess the necessary skills to run a wholesale medicine business.
Q. How to start a medical distribution firm in Pune?
Ans. Medicine is an essential item, and being a specialised business, companies usually prefer a distributor with some trade experience.
It would be best to approach the companies (there are several Pharma manufacturers in Pune itself) you are interested in representing. You have to share a specific proposal mentioning your business interest in the particular place/area.
The investment amount will depend on the place and the requirements of the particular company /s you wish to be associated with. However, it is best to remember that medicines are considered classified items, and you will need a licence from the district /state drug control office to deal in pharmaceutical items.
Furthermore, for a wholesale licence, an individual will have to be a graduate with one year of business experience. If still an undergraduate, a minimum of four years of experience is necessary.
Q. What is the distributor margin in medicines?
Ans. Trade margins are generally company-specific; however, a distributor usually gets a 7 to 12% margin in branded medicine and about 10 to 18% for generic drugs.
Q. As one of the medical distributors in Pune, can I sell medicines in other cities?
Ans. A distributor is appointed officially for a specific area/territory. Therefore, you cannot sell outside your assigned area. However, distributors usually sell to wholesale customers visiting the distributor's place to purchase stocks.
Q. How long is a drug license valid?
Ans. A drug license is valid for five years. However, the concerned department can suspend/cancel the permit in case of specified violations.
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