GUEST BLOG: founder Mitesh Soma announces bullish plans for growth at his online pharmacy

For me, 2011 is all about continuing to innovate. The focus will be on improving the services which Chemist Direct offers to customers as well as increasing our product ranges.

I'm going to make a big push in a new area too: offering customers GP consultations. Visitors to the site will be able to quickly and easily book an appointment with a registered doctor and get a fast diagnosis or advice online in a way which hasn't been done before. This is ideal for busy working professionals who may be unable to get an appointment with their normal GP surgery or working away from home. So watch this space!

It's now over a year since we moved to a new larger premises (a 50,000 square ft warehouse), added a large pet section selling pet food and supplies, and introduced home health testing kits allowing customers to check their cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels from the comfort of their own home.  We have always reacted quickly to customer demand: natural and organic health and beauty items have been fast growing product lines for us, and we also now stock health and fitness products such as sports equipment and pedometers.

Our ethos remains firmly focussed on our customers and offering a good, reliable service that people will use again and recommend to others.

Being an online company allows Chemist Direct to stock a huge range of products at dramatic reductions in price, which a high street chemist would just not be able to do. But as with all dotcom companies, the lack of face to face integration with customers means it's essential to ensure the level of service is spot on. In reality this means making sure the correct orders go out to the right people, quickly and without fuss, and any problems have to be resolved as quickly as possible.

We've also taken a few small steps to create an online community for our customers - primarily through Facebook and Twitter. Over the last few months the number of Twitter followers have increased by 50% thanks to daily updates on the latest special offers as well as all of our media coverage including cult beauty products.

Our Facebook account is also updated with blogs, tips and special offers every day and we're investigating other incentives for customers to regularly log in or encourage their friends to join, such as further discounts and samples to review. These accounts are also a great way for us to get feedback from our customers and review any problems.

On the Chemist Direct website our blogs highlight new products, how to use them, and medicines and treatments which have been in the news. They are also topical, providing tips on quitting smoking this month as customers get their New Year's Resolutions underway. In the next few weeks we are taking our blogs one step further by calling on our health and beauty experts to give medical advice and beauty tips. It's all about enriching and enhancing our customers' shopping experience.

Chemist Direct is the UK's market leading online pharmacy thanks to our loyal customer base of 300,000 registered users, but we are not resting on our laurels. We face a number of key challenges primarily encouraging customers to keep coming back to our website to shop with us which is why we place such importance on customer service, offering a wide range of products at discounted prices and ensuring that we're always one step ahead of our competitors.

Watch the Smarta video interview with Mitesh Soma

Find out more about Chemist Direct

Photography: Rankin



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