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How to Start an Apothecary Store Business

Do you want to start an apothecary store? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start an apothecary store business with no money and no experience.

If you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you. The bottom line is that you need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open your own apothecary store business.

You can start your business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized especially if you go into franchising.

Steps to Starting an Apothecary Store Business

1. Understand the Industry

Apothecary is one term for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses Materia medica (medicine) to physicians, surgeons, and patients. Apothecary shops sell ingredients and medicines they prepare to other medical practitioners, as well as dispensing them to patients.

In addition to dispensing herbs and medicine, apothecary offers general medical advice and a range of services that are now performed by other specialist practitioners, such as surgeons and obstetricians.

Apothecary is part of the Pharmacies and Drug Stores industry. Pharmacies and drug stores retail a range of prescription and over-the-counter medications, health and beauty items, toiletries and consumable goods directly to consumers on a walk-in basis.

Industry companies may also provide basic health services. The industry excludes mail-order retailers, hospitals and clinics.

Interesting Statistics About the Industry

The Pharmacies and Drug Stores industry depends on strong consumer spending to spur demand for industry products. Over the last half decade, the economy has begun recovering from recessionary declines with both the Consumer Confidence Index and disposable income increasing.

As the economy of the United States continues to recover and consumers are expected to loosen their discretionary budgets for medicines and supplements, the industry is anticipated to thrive.

The Pharmacies and Drug Stores industry is indeed a major sector of the economy of the United States of America and they generate over $312 billion annually from more than 57,735 pharmacies and drug stores (apothecary stores). The industry is responsible for the employment of over 745,955 people.

Experts project that the industry will grow at a 2.8 percent annual rate. Please note that companies holding the largest market share in the Pharmacies & Drug Stores in the US industry include Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Walmart Store Inc., Costco Wholesale, CVS Health Corporation and Rite Aid Corporation.

A recent report released by IBISWorld shows that Over the five years to 2019, the industry exhibited growth despite some adverse side effects from the regulatory environment and growing external competition. Still, the rise in the number of individuals aged 65 and over, in tandem with increases in spending on prescription medication, is expected to lead to revenue growth.

Thus, over the five years to 2019, industry revenue is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 2.7 percent to $311.9 billion, including an estimated growth of 2.8 percent in 2019 alone. An apothecary business is not a difficult business to start and it is not capital intensive especially if you choose to start on a small scale within your neighborhood.

Getting the right brands that people want to buy and good stock keeping records are the secrets of running an apothecary store. Over and above, there are stiff but fewer barriers to entry into the apothecary business. Usually, a wide variety of stocks are readily available.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographics composition of those who patronize apothecary stores is cut across all genders and age group; male and female, adults and children all take medicines and herbs hence the demographic composition for an apothecary store is all encompassing.

So, if you are thinking of starting your own apothecary store, then you should look beyond marketing your products to just people in your city, but also to pharmacies and hospitals.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

There are no niche ideas when it comes to apothecary business because apothecary is a niche idea in the pharmacies and drug stores industry, but an apothecary store business may decide to go beyond dispensing herbs and medicine, to offering general medical advice and a range of services that are now performed by other specialist practitioners, such as surgeons and obstetricians.

It also is important to note that some apothecary store business may decide to build a strong online presence and service the online community as against settling for brick and mortar store.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

Irrespective of the line of business you decide to invest in, you are still going to compete with others who are in same area of business and apothecary store business is not an exemption.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you stock your store with a wide range of herbs and medicine from different sources and you know how to reach out to your target market.

It is important to also state that the competition in the pharmacies and drug stores industry is not restricted to apothecary stores but also you will be competing against pharmacies and drug stores, herbal stores and vitamins and supplements stores who are also retailing same products you are retailing.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Here are some of the most popular apothecary stores in the United States of America;

  • Apothecary Tinctura
  • Natural Law Apothecary
  • Grateful Desert Apothecary, Herb Shop and Eco Market
  • Railyard Apothecary
  • Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary & Supply
  • Antidote Apothecary + Tea Bar
  • Rosalie Botanicals
  • Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary
  • Palo Santo Wellness Apothecary
  • Tippecanoe Herbs and Apothecary
Economic Analysis

When it comes to starting an apothecary store, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business, expand the business and start selling franchise.

When conducting costing and economic analysis for your apothecary store, you just have to examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion and also source of raw materials (ingredients). As a matter of fact, you would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your apothecary store.

As an apothecary store owner, you just have to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry. An apothecary store business is not a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several apothecary stores when you go shopping for medicines and herbs.

So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent a store and stock your store with a wide range of products and also the cost to successfully run the business.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting an apothecary store business, you have the options of either starting from the scratch or buying the franchise of an existing apothecary brand.

Starting an apothecary store business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other pharmacology related businesses which usually require detailed groundwork before launching the business.

With apothecary business, you should just try as much as possible to secure a shop that is close to your target market, get your raw materials (ingredients) and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your medicine and herbs.

Please note that most of the successful apothecary stores around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to open your own apothecary store today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established apothecary stores and of course pharmacies and drug stores, vitamins and supplements stores and herbal drug stores that also retail same medicine and herbs you are retailing.

The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market. Other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your apothecary store are mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), and stiff competition.

So also, unfavorable government policies, seasonal fluctuations, demographic/social factors, downturn in the economy which is likely going to affect consumers spending on medicine and herbs especially supplements and vitamins and of course emergence of new competitors within the same location where yours is located.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

Generally, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your apothecary store. Sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale apothecary store especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of apothecary stores across the United States of America via franchising and opening an online store, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own apothecary store in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Risk Insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Building/Property insurance
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own apothecary store, you just have to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge people in court for illegally making use of your formula cum company’s intellectual properties.

On the other hand, if you want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Aside from the results you produce in terms of reliable medicine and herbs, professional certification is one of the main reasons why most apothecaries stand out. If you want to make an impact in the apothecary business, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own apothecary store business;

  • Certified Herbalist cum Apothecarist
  • Certified (GMP, NPA, NSF, QAI) Nutritional Dietary Supplement

Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience (expertise), the easier it is for people to trust your medicine and herbal mixtures.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;

  • DBA
  • EIN
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting an apothecary store business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running an apothecary store in a street corner or from your home.

Securing a standard and well – positioned store and stocking your store with a wide range of medicine and herbal mixture from different sources are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, but if you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to source for fund to finance the business.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your apothecary store business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Starting an apothecary store business comes with its own challenges; it is a business that cannot be started in any location. As a matter of fact, you will need approval from the local council and other regulating authorities in your city.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city.

Before choosing a location for your apothecary store business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your apothecary store business;

  • The demography of the location especially as it relates to people who make use of herbs and medical mixtures
  • The demand for medical mixtures and herbs in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of apothecary stores and pharmacies and drug stores, vitamins and supplement stores and herbal stores in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for mixing pans, stirrers, medical pots, containers, Point of Sales (POS) Machines, shelves, and software applications. You will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regards leasing or outright purchase of a store facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short-term rent/lease while test running the business in the location.

If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal locations.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard apothecary store business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer/Apothecarist (you can occupy this role), Apothecarist, Admin and Human Resources Manager, Merchandize Manager, Store Manager, Accounting Clerk, and Cleaners.

On the average, you will need a minimum of 3 to 6 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard apothecary business.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

When it comes to the services delivery of an apothecary store, it depends on the need of the patient or complains they present.

Once the patient explains his or her ailment, the apothecarist goes ahead to mix the required herbs. Many recipes used by apothecarist included herbs, minerals, and pieces of animals (meats, fats, skins), made into paste for external use, or used as aromatherapy.

Some of these are similar to natural remedies used today, including catnip, chamomile, fennel, mint, garlic, and witch hazel. It is important to state that an apothecary store may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale apothecary store business is not too high means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when marketing your medical mixtures and herbs. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your apothecary store;

  • Introduce your apothecary store by sending introductory letters alongside your catalog to households and key stakeholders in and around the location where your apothecary store is located
  • Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, libraries, public facilities and train stations et al.
  • Making your first impression count positively to those that patronize medica mixtures and herbs from your apothecary store for the first time
  • Make use of attractive handbills to create awareness and also to give direction to your apothecary store
  • Advertise your services in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your apothecary store
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your apothecary store (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people who consider you an expert in the field)
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your apothecary store; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.

Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you sell your products at rock bottom prices is to purchase your ingredients directly from the manufacturers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items that you purchase directly from the manufacturers, the cheaper you tend to get them.

Another strategy that will help you retail your medica mixtures and herbs at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.

So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The availability of a wide range of medica mixtures and herbs in your store, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your products can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always.

If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized emails and above all, you can easily receive complaints and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your apothecary store;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your apothecary store
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your apothecary store
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your apothecary store business in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your apothecary store in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your apothecary store is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.