Szimpatika offers its partners a unique web store on the market

PHOENIX Pharma offers partner system pharmacies the opportunity to enter the online market

The Szimpatika WebTér, which went live in mid-September 2021, offers its members a unique service in the domestic pharmaceutical market: it offers its partner pharmacies the possibility to open their online store. This will help them to grow digitally, while the modern and user-friendly system will enable them to compete in the online market. The specificities and challenges of the project, which is based on the Logishop webshop solution, are presented in our case study.


History

The pharmacies that work closely with PHOENIX Pharma Zrt. launched the Szimpatika programme in 2007, which provides purchasing and marketing support functions for its members. It currently has nearly 400 independent members.

"The idea of launching a webshop was conceived in the company before COVID-19, but during the pandemic, it was proven that there is a justification for such an initiative. In Hungary, too, the trend towards shifting part of pharmacy sales to the online space has become noticeable. Pharmacies do not typically have an online sales channel, but there has been a demand for the launch of a webshop. However, it would have been difficult for them to go down this road alone," said Gergő Szombati, e-commerce manager of Szimpatika WebTér.

Szimpatika wanted to create a business model to support e-commerce sales in pharmacies. It was thinking about a model that would provide pharmacies with a turnkey webshop, i.e. an online sales opportunity for its members. A call for tenders was launched to develop a project in the form of a partner shop. They were looking for a development partner with experience in integration, stable, reliable, with a large and well-prepared development team, and with appropriate references. The project was finally awarded to LogiNet.


Objectives

Szimpatika already had a website with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, a content site that reinforced its brand and awareness, but no shopping.

Szimpatika's idea was that the new online store should be closely linked to its website, szimpatika. hu. Visitors and potential customers would come from there to the Szimpatika WebTér, from where, after selecting the pharmacy, the customer would be directed to the pharmacy's webshop. The WebTér thus supports a B2B model of partner networking (Szimpatika provides the webshop to its members), while the pharmacies serve customers in a B2C model.

Szimpatika considered it important that pharmacies should remain autonomous in their pricing and stock management, i.e. they should decide for themselves what they sell online and at what price, except for prescription medicines not authorised by law. 

It was also important for Szimpatika to provide pharmacies with an online shop that would minimise the administrative burden and extra work for them.


Challenges

The Szimpatika WebTér partnershop project was launched in June 2020. The development was built based on the Logishop webshop, with several custom improvements.

Main challenges of the project:

1. Connecting multiple pharmacy systems

The pharmacies use different software for sales in the physical pharmacy, which had to be linked to the webshop and the interface had to be clarified. The challenges were to find common ground between processes and solutions.

2. The same range of products, which may appear at different prices from one pharmacy to another

The range of products in the webshop (webshop product range) is the same, but it may differ from pharmacy to pharmacy in which products are sold on their webshop. Each product has a product datasheet, which gives all the information about the product in detail, but each pharmacy has separate pricing. Depending on which pharmacy the user has chosen, he will always see the price of that pharmacy. (The pharmacy webshop should not have different prices compared to the pharmacy shop prices.)

3. Integrations

Complexity and the interconnection of different systems have also had an impact on integration processes (ERP). There are several types of pharmacy systems that pharmacies use to sell in the physical store. The partner shop has necessitated the development of an intermediate system to bring the pharmacy systems together.

4. Due to the complexity of the project, creating the right dedication within the company

During the project, PHOENIX Pharma had to make some decisions (migration, development needs in the meantime, prioritisation), so it was essential to assemble a team with the right authority and dedication.

5. Continuous and comprehensible information on the progress of the project

The development of the webshop involves many people within PHOENIX Pharma, as it is interconnected with many other things, so it is useful to communicate from the beginning in a language that everyone understands. You also have to be prepared for the fact that such a major project will have an impact on the life of the company, both negative and positive.

6. Allow sufficient time for testing the webshop

Certain tests can only be performed by PHOENIX Pharma (due to ERP), so it is important to prepare for these in advance. For the tests, it is advisable to involve all actors who will use the webshop.


Solution

Logishop webshop has added several new innovative features to the Szimpatika webshop.

Szimpatika partner webshop features

1. Pharmacy selector

On the home page of the webshop, only the monthly national Szimpatika special offers are displayed with prices, and the user can see the centrally set banners and content.

Prices and stock information are only displayed if the visitor has chosen a pharmacy. In the pharmacy selector, the user can use the quick filter to filter on 3 conditions: whether the pharmacy offers parcel delivery, whether the product is in stock (only from the product page) and whether the selected pharmacy is open.

2. Customizable pharmacy sub-sites

Each pharmacy will have its sub-site in the webshop, but they will be built on the same template. (Sub-sites and discount product pages will be available on separate links, so the pharmacy can promote the webshop itself.

On the pharmacy landing page, the information can be personalised and different (e.g. pharmacy photo, introduction, phone number, email address, approach, opening hours by day, and payment methods available).

The purchase can be made after the pharmacy selection, as only the pharmacy has a shopping cart and checkout process.

It is up to the pharmacy itself to decide which products from the PHOENIX range are available online to sell in its pharmacy webshop and at what price. The pharmacy can sell more than its stock of PHOENIX products, as PHOENIX Pharma delivers the products within 1 working day. And the pharmacy can choose to offer its customers only personal delivery or to send the order by parcel post to any destination in the country.

3. Product datasheet and filters

It is up to each pharmacy to decide how many products it sells on the Sympatika WebTér, so the range of products in pharmacy webshops may differ. In all cases, the intermediate system provides the webshop with the product data-sheet (product description, photo, etc.) after selection. The customer can filter the products by several items: products in stock, products on sale, manufacturer name, and price (min-max).

4. Product variant structure

The prices of products can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, so a platform similar to a multivendor webshop had to be created to display the different prices. The products were not differentiated by attribute, but by the pharmacy to which they belonged.

5. User profile page

The user can browse the webshop and make purchases even if he is not logged in. When logged in, however, they can access other functions: their data, manage shipping and billing addresses, manage previous orders, their favourite pharmacies, my favourite products, stock tracking and notifications.

The user can subscribe to the newsletter, which offers the possibility of personalisation: it includes special offers from the pharmacy where the user last made a purchase.

6. System integrations

The ERP was integrated and some information had to be reconciled between the different systems. 

The integration of the payment system has not been done, as there is no payment in the webshop, only reservation (payment is made when the product is received). There is no invoicing in the webshop either, this is done by the pharmacy system.


Results

The development of WebTér took about a year. LogiNet consultant, project manager, backend and frontend developers, and testers were involved in the project.

The surprisingly high time investment was due to the uniqueness and complexity of the solution. There is currently no service in the pharmaceutical market offering a webshop for independent pharmacies similar to WebTér.

"The long-term goal is to connect as many Szimpatika pharmacies as possible to Szimpatika WebTér", says Gergő Szombati, e-commerce manager of Szimpatika WebTér. Adding. Some pharmacies are likely to have higher online turnover, others lower, but that's not the only reason for this opportunity. A dedicated platform allows pharmacies to present themselves, where the user can find information, search for the product and sometimes buy it in the pharmacy rather than online."


Future plans

Following the launch of the Sympatika WebTér, further improvements will be added to the site. These would include the integration of a credit card payment method, refining the product filters, and integrating the WebTér more efficiently into the szimpatika.hu site.


What challenges did Szimpatika face when developing the new webshop system and what solutions did they use?

Watch the video with the e-commerce manager of Szimpatika WebTér!

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