February 3, 2020 Interviews

Interview with Francesco Zaccariello, CEO and Founder of eFarma, the Italian online pharmacy

Francesco Zaccariello is the CEO and Founder of eFarma, the first Italian online pharmacy (efarma.com).

eFarma was founded in 2013 as an innovative online advisory and distribution channel for health products, and now it offers over 65,000 products amongst the best brands in the pharmaceutical sector.

Francesco graduated in Pharmacy at University of Naples Federico II and received an Pharmacy Innovation and Management Program from LUISS Business School.

Q: In 2012, you decided to start eFarma, an online pharmacy for health and beauty products. What opportunity did you spot back then?

Francesco: The online business has always been one of my passions. During my studies in Pharmacy, I started to sell various personal products online on leading marketplaces.

In that same period, I analysed the US and European online pharmaceutical industry, realising that in Italy was not possible to sell OTC medicinal products (over-the-counter – without a prescription from a healthcare professional) on internet.

Therefore, in 2012, I decided to launch eFarma, an ecommerce for non-medicinal products (such as nutritional supplements, medical devices, beauty products, etc.), with the hope that, someday, the Italian regulations could change.

And in fact, in 2016, Italy embraced the European directives and regulations for online marketing and distribution of OTC drugs, and eFarma was one of the first Italian ecommerce to receive the marketing authorisation from the Italian Ministry of Health.

The fact that eFarma was already on the market as qualified ecommerce for health and beauty products, made it possible to position itself as first mover in the Italian pharmaceutical internet space.

Q: eFarma reached more than 13 million unique visitors, and over half a million customers in 2019. How did you achieve these results? Can you better explain the business model of eFarma?

Francesco: Since 2016, eFarma has experienced a continuous growth in terms of customers, sales volumes and partnerships with the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The mission of eFarma is to digitalise the offline pharmacy experience, replicating the purchasing experience that customers have in a physical store.

That’s why, together with the pure sale of medical and beauty products, we offer a range of specialised support services, such as our customer service run by pharmacists with a live chat. Customer can search products according to various specific criteria (for example the ingredients or the remedy), which we are able to deliver all over the world.

Video in Italian

Q: You just announced the equity investment of Finbeauty, an Italian holding specialised in investments in beauty care. What are the plans of eFarma for the future?

Francesco: Finbeauty is a Milanese investment company whose President is Dario Belletti, former President of Group Cosmetics in Perfumery (Cosmetici in Profumeria) of Cosmetica Italia, the Italian association for the cosmetics industry.

Finbeaty is an important player in the cosmetics industry, which can convey important synergies for our company.

Even if eFarma is financially self-sustaining, Finbeauty invested through a capital increase, in order to accelerate the company’s growth. Our goal is to make eFarma the first pure player in the ecommerce of drugs, health and beauty products in Italy.

We are ready to evaluate other investors who can bring us industrial competences and synergies.

Q: What do you think of the Italian start-ups and what difficulties did you have – if any – when you started your business?

Francesco: I think that starting a business in Italy is not so simple, and it is more complicated if you decide to found a digital company in the South of Italy. I found eFarma in the province of Naples, close to the seaside, in a place full of history.

Probably, the greater difficulty that we experienced at the beginning was finding people with high digital skills, able to make a difference. Therefore, we had to train people at the beginning.

I am very proud to say that thanks to eFarma, we have contributed in developing digital competences and creating jobs for young people in the South of Italy.

And I am also thrilled to say that we are going to move our headquarter in a 3,000 square meter building nearby the seaside, later this year.


For more info on eFarma visit: https://www.efarma.com/