Where will you be getting your family planning supplies in five years?

3rd May 2016


Customers around the world are connecting to the internet and finding a world of products and services available at their fingertips. Over 46% of the world’s population went online in 2015, many of them to shop. With the click of a button and a payment mechanism, customers can buy almost anything. The size of the overall global e-commerce marketplace is enormous; business-to-consumer (B2C) online sales reached an estimated US $1.5 trillion by the end of 2014. Given this phenomenal growth, reproductive health (RH) supplies and information have also become more available online, giving customers new channels to obtain these essential products and services.

Awarded an Innovation Fund Grant from the New and Underused RH Technologies Caucus, the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University (IRH) partnered with seven organizations to examine the current extent of reproductive health (RH) supplies’ availability via e-commerce, and the likelihood for future expansion through a case studies series and overview report. Each of the seven case studies focuses either on a specific country (India, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States) or one new and underutilized RH technologies (emergency contraception, female condoms, and the Standard Days Method®) at the global level.

This exploration provides insight into hindering and enabling factors within and across different settings for e-commerce and RH supplies.The emerging trends identified key factors that drive the availability of RH supplies online, including infrastructure (broadly defined to encompass all aspects of provisioning from internet search to product delivery), regulations (of all kinds), information availability, and customer profiles and preferences. While the specific nature of these factors vary by country and method, each is crucial in determining the type and scale of RH supplies online, and all are expected to remain important in the near future.

The case studies also highlight areas that would benefit from additional research to enable the RH supplies community to thrive in the digital age. 

Categories: New/Underused RH Technologies Caucus, Shaping Markets