Getting ready for marketplace trading: a case of a pharmaceutical company

How to sell medicines online




STADA (a pharmaceutical company) has implemented the Brandquad solution to quickly exchange data with online retailers and ensure the completeness and reliability of their product ID cards on online platforms.

In 2020, pharmaceutical industry players are awaiting the adoption of a fundamental law: a permit for the remote trading in medicines. So far, it has only been possible to order the required medicine online with delivery to the pharmacy.

Pharma companies started preparing for online drug sales last year. STADA — an international group of pharmaceutical companies in Russia — began by creating a high-quality internal catalogue of product information. With its help, the organization plans to establish a fast transfer of in-house product data to marketplaces.

Starting position

STADA started its preparation with “peeking” at online pharmacies: the company monitored the websites where the brand’s medications are present. This step led to the first unpleasant discoveries — for example, many product ID cards contained irrelevant information, although the fact that the company has always provided platforms with data in full and without any delay.

At the same time, the number of online platforms distributing STADA products did not allow for manual monitoring of data integrity.

Consequently, the company formulated two crucial tasks for itself. First, to create a convenient product information catalogue to transfer the necessary data to online retailers instantly and error-free at any time. And secondly, to automate the monitoring of its product ID cards on the Internet to be aware when any incorrect or incomplete information is used.

Choosing the right solution

STADA has been cooperating with the Internet Initiative Development Fund (IIDF) for many years. Therefore, when a need came for the right solution for managing digital data, the company turned to startups — participants of the IIDF program. This is how the pharmaceutical company learned about Brandquad and its PIM system. The acquaintance resulted in collaboration — STADA acquired the Brandquad PIM-system and the Brandquad analytics module.

Replacing the old ways

Before the PIM system, the company had an online catalogue. The majority of suppliers used this exact catalogue as a source of information about STADA products; the rest of them obtained data from the corporate website.

Later all the information about medicines migrated to a single directory — a PIM-system with public “subdirectories”. As of today, online retailers only take information from this new repository.

For greater convenience, for some platforms, STADA has configured the transfer of product data via API (a software interface that enables one program to interact with another).

“We have created public data catalogues for retailers within the PIM system, and today 20-30 people use them on a daily basis. In order to provide such a service manually, we would need to hire 1-2 more employees who would only deal with this one task,” — says Ludmila Yakimova, Digital Communications Manager at STADA.

Analyzing everything

Thanks to Brandquad’s analytics modules, the corporation began to monitor many essential parameters. For example, the solutions provided an opportunity to reconcile the information in the product ID cards on various online platforms with “reference” data in the PIM system. If a retailer has made a mistake when transferring information about medicines, the system immediately sends an alert to STADA.

The analytical module also helped to monitor the prices for STADA drugs and their competitors. It was critical for the company to know at what cost were online retailers selling their products, and it was also vital to know at what prices were their direct competitors distributing their items. Besides, STADA used Brandquad analytics to check whether their promotions and discounts agreed upon with the retailers were actually working.

All this data — prices, content of product ID cards, etc. — was automatically collected using artificial intelligence embedded in the Brandquad solution.

According to STADA observations, ever since the analytical module had been introduced, the time spent on data collection for the analysis decreased by a factor of 10 — from 3-5 days to 4 hours.

All hands to the website

Before this joint project with Brandquad, the company received hundreds of calls from customers asking where and at what price it was possible to order STADA pharmaceutical products (such requests accounted for about 50% of all client inquiries to the call center). To reduce the burden on operators, STADA decided to redirect those interested in the price to the website. The catalogue pages were equipped with a smart “View price” button. By clicking on it, the customer receives detailed information: from which retailer and at what price the product could be purchased. Thus, it was possible to review the prices of retailers such as “Аpteka.ru”, “Apteka so sklada”, “Rigla”, etc. right on the official STADA website.

As a result, website traffic increased by 60%, and the number of calls to the call center declined by half.

“After we launched this project, proved (later) the customer flow to be significant and began to redirect this traffic from our website to retailers’ pages, even those who initially were reluctant to change their processes, update the content and connect to the button, did it,” — Lyudmila Yakimova emphasizes.

With the introduction of Brandquad products, STADA has acquired a user-friendly data catalogue, modern analytical tools and the ability to optimize internal processes. The positive results of the project inspired the corporation and its partners so much that the latter also decided to connect to the new STADA infrastructure.

Photo credits: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

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