Israel's Super-Pharm to Launch Its First Website for Online Sales

But plan comes under fire for high delivery charges

Super-Pharm.
Nir Kafri

Super-Pharm, Israel’s biggest retailer of cosmetics and healthcare products, said on Sunday it was launching a website for online sales in the next few weeks and hopes it will account for 10 percent of its turnover within three years.

“We believe it will enable us to sell more products per purchase than in our branches,” said Nitzan Lavi, CEO of the chain, which counts some 200 stores around the country. “Today the average purchase at the stores in 80 shekels [$22.60] and we think the average internet purchase will reach 100 shekels Not all our stores offer every cosmetic brand but the website will.”

But food retailers, who have operated online shopping sites for years, were quick to criticize the plan, saying Super-Pharm was charging too much money for deliveries and for in-store pickup.

Those charges run to 29.90 shekels for purchases of up to 300 shekels. For shoppers who want to collect their online purchases in the nearest brick-and-mortar store within three hours will have to pay 20 shekels, although if they wait till up to 24 hours it’s free.

“That’s very expensive and for no reasons. The supermarket chains also charge 30 shekels for a delivery, but the deliveries are much more complicated, including tens of products, some of which have to be kept frozen or refrigerated, and have to be delivered in multiple cartons,” said one industry source who asked not to be named.

Super-Pharm said the site, which will be made available on a pilot basis to 10,000 members of its Lifestyle club this week, would include chain-wide sales but not local ones offered by individual stores. Shopper purchasing prescription drugs through their health maintenance organization would not be able to have them delivered to their homes.

Super-Pharm has had a website for some time, but it was limited to downloadable coupons and advertising specials. New rules will require pharmacy chains to post prices for all their products store by store online by the end of June.