Empowering local pharmacies to go digital and reinforce the personal touch

Empowering local pharmacies to go digital and reinforce the personal touch

Empowering local pharmacies to go digital and reinforce the personal touch

Empowering local pharmacies to go digital and reinforce the personal touch

Farmaxx, e-commerce platform for local pharmaciesFarmaxx, e-commerce platform for local pharmacies

about the client

Farmaxx is part of Ambixx, a Belgian company that is active in healthcare, HR, software development, and sales and marketing. Ambixx constantly scans these markets in search of new opportunities to create sustainable business models.

Challenge

Build an online platform to connect customers with local independent pharmacies 


Often embedded within communities, local pharmacies offer much more than just products on a shelf – trained pharmacists provide individual, on-the-spot consultations, offering unrivalled access to valuable primary care. This has become even more apparent since the COVID-19 pandemic, with a recent UK survey finding that 69% of people were now more likely to consider (pharmacy-supported) self-care as their first option for less serious issues, ahead of family doctors and hospital emergency departments. 

Belgium has one of the highest densities of pharmacies in Europe, with one pharmacy for approximately every 2,300 inhabitants. 


However, despite this seemingly ‘healthy’ number, the reality shows the gradual disappearance of local independent pharmacies, who struggle to compete with large chains that offer cheaper prices and that dominate the online marketplace – according to APB, the Belgian pharmaceutical association, around 50 pharmacies go out of business each year.


Farmaxx saw the need for a platform to help these smaller players survive and thrive. They wanted to give independent pharmacies a convenient way to extend their business and services to the internet, while at the same time giving customers the best price and the personalised service they value. Added to this, they wanted to offer pharmaceutical companies an efficient way to reach local pharmacies, which could in turn create the kind of critical mass that could keep prices attractive.


With Farmaxx’s business model hinging on the convergence of all three value propositions, they needed a comprehensive platform that would successfully integrate a lot of functionality, on a bootstrapped budget compared to the online giants. And with the constantly evolving regulatory landscape around online pharmaceuticals, they needed to act fast.

solution

An integrated e-commerce platform that reinforces the personal connection

To better understand the needs of each of Farmaxx’s three main stakeholders, we organised a series of co-creation workshops. The information we gathered helped us define a strong product concept and identify the essential functionality to be developed – this covered both the customer-facing e-commerce side, as well how pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies would subscribe to use the platform.


At all times, we kept a close eye on Farmaxx’s overall business goals and budget, deciding to leverage existing third-party platforms and services where possible to rationalise both development costs and time-to-market – with regulation around online pharmacies in flux, delivering an effective platform quickly was crucial. Custom code allowed us to bring everything together seamlessly, offering a premium user experience.


The end result was a platform that greatly enhances the experience pharmacy customers have with their own, local pharmacy. With services like home delivery (fulfilled by Farmaxx) and ‘click and collect’, more competitive prices when using the platform, and enhanced personalised assistance via channels like WhatsApp, Messenger and email, Farmaxx delivers a real win-win that the big online chains cannot offer.


results

“In November Five we found a partner that listens, understands our needs and translates them into a tangible product, keeping different stakeholders and IT complexity in mind.”

Marleen Slaets and Laurent Cooreman

Co-founders Farmaxx

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01

Translating different stakeholders’ needs into an integrated e-commerce platform

To understand the different needs of the three main stakeholders (i.e. the local pharmacies, the customers and the pharmaceutical companies), and translate them into a strong product concept, we carried out a series of workshops. 


We used empathy mapping to give us a focused view of the customer, and to gain deeper insights about their behaviour and attitudes. This approach helped us get into the mind of the user, even before thinking about creating the solution. 


From here, story mapping allowed us to visualise the various user journeys – for the customer, but also for the other stakeholders – to identify the functionalities the platform would need. We then prioritised these according to the value they would bring, allowing us to shape a powerful platform while staying within budget. 


During the design phase, we called on the expertise of a real-life pharmacist to make sure that our solution reflected the realities of both running a successful pharmacy and meeting the needs of customers in real life.


Farmaxx user journeysFarmaxx user journeys

02

Seamless systems integration to balance user needs and back-end fulfilment

As consumers, we are all more demanding than ever, with price and convenience often taking precedence over brand loyalty. We’re also highly protective of our personal, medical and financial details, yet at the same time, expect a highly personalised experience.


For Farmaxx’s venture into e-commerce, the stakes were high: not only would the on-site user experience have to live up to its customers’ high demands, product prices would also have to be reactive to match or beat the competition, stock levels would need to be accurately reflected at all times, and fast and effortless fulfilment would need to be guaranteed for home deliveries and pick-up.


The Farmaxx platform itself was only one cog in the wheel, so to offer the full range of functionality in an efficient and cost-effective way, we needed to integrate various third party services. 


These included: Shopify for e-commerce, Sendcloud for shipping and the AI-driven tool Priceshape for dynamic price monitoring; the official MediPIM database to ensure accurate information on all medications on the platform; Farmad to get stock levels and push orders straight into the pharmacy ordering system; and messaging tools and channels like Whatsapp for Business, Facebook Messenger and email so that customers can connect directly with their local pharmacy.


To seamlessly manage client data from the many pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies who subscribe to use Farmaxx, the platform also integrates with Client Relationship Management software Hubspot.

Information architecture of Farmaxx platformInformation architecture of Farmaxx platform

03

Laying the right foundations for data analytics

Now, more than ever, being able to react quickly and decisively to changing situations is key to success and growth. And having access to actionable data plays a crucial role here, as it allows companies to make more informed decisions and faster course corrections where needed.


We knew that data would start flowing in from the moment the Farmaxx platform was launched, so we built an analytics plan that outlined what data would be gathered, and how it would be reported – after all, data is only as powerful as the insights that can be drawn from it.


We defined the relevant KPIs for the platform and installed the various tracking codes that would let us monitor everything from how customers navigate, to average order value, to monthly revenue. This data could be used to continuously optimise both the user experience, and marketing campaigns, all in compliance with EU data protection regulations (GDPR).

data analytics integration
data analytics integration

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