Volume 94, Issue 28

Thursday, October 19, 2000


City rallies for peace

London mayoral race begins

Budget unveiled, election on horizon

Clubs upset about new Wave schedule policy

Campus Briefs

Former USC president cashes in with Canada's first online drugstore

Corroded Disorder

Former USC president cashes in with Canada's first online drugstore

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

One of Western's former University Students' Council presidents is about to become Canada's first online pharmacist.

Michael Burns, USC president in 1993-94, announced yesterday in Toronto the launch of his internet start-up drug store, eDrugstore.ca, which he said will be Canada's first online pharmacy, offering over the counter medications and filling prescriptions.

"It's exciting because there isn't anyone in the online market yet," the former political science student said, adding his company has partnered with Microsoft Canada to help get the company off the ground.

Burns said he thinks established drug-store chains like Shoppers Drug Mart have been reluctant to go online, lest Web sites would take away business from their regular franchises. He said this tendency works to his company's advantage. "You have a chance as an Internet startup to be small and nimble and quick, to get out there and get branded," he said.

Better product selection, more access to information and complete privacy are the main advantages eDrugstore.ca would have over the conventional, street-corner druggist, he said.

The online pharmacy would eventually offer more than 20,000 different products, he said, while most regular stores have no more than 5,000 products. He also stressed consumers could take advantage of 24-hour service and private transactions.

"We can guarantee your privacy. No longer are you going to have to ask about the rash on your back in front of a bunch of strangers," he said.

Robert Fisher, an associate professor at Richard Ivey school of business, said achieving success in the online marketplace is very similar to making it in the conventional business world.

"You need to provide something that's unique and valuable to customers," he said.

Fisher noted there has been a boom recently in online grocery stores in the United States, but American consumers did not show as much interested as was expected and many of the internet grocers were forced to close down.

"Everyone likes the convenience," he said, "But there are concerns about additional costs, not being able to see a product before you buy it and delivery times."

General manager of the USC, Jim Walden, said he remembered Burns as an able leader during his term in office in '93-'94.

"He was a good president," Walden said, adding Burns was instrumental in negotiating agreements that gave students a stronger presence in the University Community Centre. "He was a good communicator. I'd say that was his strongest point."

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