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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Pharmacy for the Future: Making Prescriptions Possible on Magento

The first Magento-powered online pharmacy.

The global online pharmacy market is expected to be worth $128 billion in 5 years time — over 4 times its value in 2014. It’s easy to see why the market is booming — online pharmacies are able to deliver direct to your door, and often at a much better price.

But whilst you can now buy things like simple creams and aspirin online pretty easily, prescription medicine is still strictly controlled by Government regulations. Not only is it dangerous to purchase prescription-strength drugs without proper medical advice, but personal medical data is also highly sensitive, and in the wrong hands could be seriously misused. Up until now, the only way to get your prescription medicine was to take your prescription to a licensed pharmacist. Anyone who’s done this lately knows what comes with it — queues, delays, and stock shortages. In 2017, the average waiting time for a simple prescription in the US clocked in at a whopping 18 minutes!

But what if we were able to work around this problem? What if we could create an online pharmacy with all the convenience for the customer of buying online, which passed all the necessary Government regulations? Tricky perhaps, but impossible? No way! Here’s how Scandiweb pulled out all the stops to create the first licensed, Magento-powered online pharmacy.

What are the barriers to selling prescription medicine online?

The main issue here is the information in question. Medical information is extremely sensitive and needs to be treated with complete security. In most countries, including the USA, the law permits that information on an individual’s medical details is only disclosed to authorised parties. For an online retailer, this is a pretty big deal; it means our Magento-powered store cannot track or log any information about the customer. Not only this, but the retailer is not authorised to know anything about the prescription products they are selling.

From a technical point of view, this puts us in quite a tight spot. Magento is unable to store any product or customer information — usually pretty vital stuff from an eCommerce perspective.

Devising a solution for super sensitive information

We needed a solution built on Magento for eCommerce operations, that was able to act like a typical eCommerce store, without knowing any information about the product or customer. For this to be possible, the solution had to be integrated with Government-authorised third parties, both for retrieving product information and also order fulfilment. Information would need to pass seamlessly, but securely, between all components, whilst simultaneously forming part of a hassle-free shopping experience for the customer. Here’s a breakdown of how we made it possible:

To summarise, we start with Magento - our base for eCommerce operations. We then use a Javascript-based layer to retrieve and display information from an authorised external service, without Magento ‘seeing’ this information. The products are displayed to the customer, who is able to shop as they would normally. Magento is integrated with another authorised external service, who perform order fulfilment once checkout is complete. Products are either delivered to the customer’s desired address, or in special circumstances, to dedicated pick-up points for collection.

Goodbye queues, hello convenience!

Our client’s customers can now purchase all their prescription needs quickly, easily, and securely. No more waiting in line for hours for medication you really need!

Not only does our solution eliminate inconvenience to the customer, but it is also entirely secure and legislation-compliant from end-to-end. No data about the customer or their prescription is ever seen by anyone or anything without permission to do so. Customers can buy their medication online, safe in the knowledge their sensitive information is well looked after.

So there you have it! We created a Magento-powered online pharmacy which works perfectly without knowing what is being sold, and who it is being sold to. We’re super excited to see what else can be done with this technology. Keep an eye out in the near future for more awesome developments like this from Scandiweb!

Check out our other awesome Magento services!

Got a question? Want to do something equally amazing? Get in touch! Comment below or drop us a line at info@scandiweb.com

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