How China's Dominance in Nickel and US Retail Pharmacy of the Future are Shaping Global Markets

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Jul 21, 2023

3 min read


How China's Dominance in Nickel and US Retail Pharmacy of the Future are Shaping Global Markets

China's Mastery of Nickel Extraction and Its Impact on Electric Cars

China has solidified its position as the world's leading producer of electric vehicles (EVs) by gaining control over the largest source of nickel. Nickel is a crucial component in the batteries used to power these vehicles. Through a mastery of a unique process, Chinese firms have unlocked Indonesia's vast reserves of nickel ore for use in making EV batteries. This has given China a significant advantage in the global EV market.

The recent decision by Beijing to impose export restrictions on gallium and germanium, two metals essential for semiconductors, highlights the potential risks of relying on China for crucial inputs. As China continues to dominate the production of key materials for various industries, nations around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the need to diversify their supply chains.

The US Retail Pharmacy Landscape and Meeting Changing Consumer Needs

The retail pharmacy landscape in the United States is facing numerous challenges, including saturated retail locations, ongoing labor shortages, inflationary pressures, and a plateauing of generic drug penetration. To remain competitive in this environment, retail pharmacies of all types must strive to better understand and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

According to a consumer survey conducted by McKinsey, consumer preferences in the retail pharmacy sector are evolving rapidly. The survey revealed that there are four types of retail pharmacies: retail chains, regional pharmacies (mass retail and grocers), independent pharmacies, and mail-order and online pharmacies.

Retail chains are the largest and most prevalent of the four types, accounting for about a third of stores and prescription revenues in 2021. They dispense a significantly higher number of prescriptions per store compared to other types of pharmacies, highlighting their dominant position in the market.

Mail-order and online pharmacies, on the other hand, have historically had lower penetration rates for nonspecialty drugs compared to specialty drugs. However, they are gaining traction and disrupting the market. These pharmacies offer speed and convenience to consumers, but they may lack the personal touch of an in-person experience.

Actionable Advice for Retail Pharmacies

  • 1. Embrace Omnichannel Strategies: Retail pharmacies, including mail-order and online pharmacies, should consider adopting omnichannel approaches that combine physical, online, and mail options. This will allow them to cater to different consumer preferences and provide a seamless experience across multiple channels.
  • 2. Personalize the Online Experience: Online pharmacies can bridge the gap created by their lower-touch approach by offering a more personalized experience. Implementing video telehealth visits with remote pharmacists can establish a personal connection with customers, enhancing convenience while still maintaining a level of personalized care.
  • 3. Collaborate with Traditional Players: Online pharmacies seeking to disrupt the market can collaborate with traditional retail chains and independent pharmacies to leverage their existing infrastructure and customer base. This partnership can help online pharmacies expand their reach and provide a hybrid experience that combines the convenience of online ordering with the familiarity of in-person consultations.


China's dominance in the nickel market for electric cars and the evolving landscape of US retail pharmacies highlight the importance of understanding and adapting to changing market dynamics. As nations seek to reduce their reliance on China for critical inputs, diversification of supply chains becomes crucial.

For retail pharmacies to thrive in a saturated market with changing consumer preferences, embracing omnichannel strategies, personalizing the online experience, and collaborating with traditional players are essential steps. By staying ahead of consumer trends and leveraging technological advancements, retail pharmacies can position themselves for success in the future.

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