Pharmacies keep community engagement during covid

Community Good Awards Finalist: RPM Retail

When the country went into lockdown last year pharmacies were allowed to operate, but they weren’t allowed to let people into their stores. This caused a lot of issues, such as queuing and customers having to wait in their cars for a very long time.

RPM Retail, a data analytics company whose job is to primarily collect sales data and stock information from retail stores, including Pharmacies, and repackage it by putting it in a way that non-technical people could understand, came up with a solution. 

Because of this solution RPM Retail is a finalist in our Community Good Award this year. Read on to find out how they helped.

Stephen Hopkins, RPM Retail’s Key Account Manager, said giving information to pharmacy owners to help them engage with customers and sell more by making sure they’re not out of stock of the best selling products, was what they’d been doing until Covid hit. When lockdown happened, he said they had to do more to help. 

“We’ve put a lot of work in this year with the community focus with pharmacies. It’s progressing all the time. We’ve really become pretty well embedded in the pharmacy community. We even started doing daily triggered emails to pharmacy’s loyalty club customers to drive engagement before Covid. 

“The progression from that was, as soon as lockdown hit, we started having conversations with a number of stores and they said, ‘we’ve got this engagement with the customers, but they can’t buy anything, they can’t come into the store, and we are being swamped by phone calls, can you help?’,” Stephen said.

He said they’d seen a few pharmacy websites with Rocketspark before and they thought, “well this is a great opportunity to just jump straight in and get a template that we can reuse to help stores get an online presence as quickly as possible. That was the nature of the project to begin with, the speed of producing something”.

Stephen had done a few different builds of websites before and used different tools, but he said they didn’t have the easy build “lego approach” of Rocketspark. 

Stephen said people were phoning pharmacies to ask if they were open, did they have certain products, could they fill a script?

Once the issues were identified RPM Retail set to work and built ten websites for ten different community pharmacies.

These pharmacy’s customers can now do everything online just using simple forms, including requesting scripts and booking vaccinations. 

“We’ve looked at the traffic on each of the sites and the script repeat request is so popular. It just makes it so easy for customers and it was particularly useful when you couldn’t let people into the stores,” he said.

Stephen said even though lockdown ended, the stores continue to use and improve their websites, and they are still rolling out more. He’s just built another two and has four more in the pipeline.

“They are all independently owned pharmacies in places like Kaitaia, Gisborne, TeAwamutu, Stratford and Blenheim and they are the heart of their community. The owners know their customers and what we are trying to do is build a rapport with the younger generation coming through so they can keep the rapport going. It was great to see the uptake from the online stores and the positive feedback the owners received from their customers was very rewarding.

“The ease of use of the Rocketspark product has made it so adaptable and easy to create things and put the power into the hands of the stores where they can then control the message that they’re getting out to their customers.”

Stephen said it was never about getting a huge number of online sales, it was another avenue for engagement with the local pharmacy’s customers. 

“They normally have a lot of face to face interaction with people, but during their first lockdowns that all stopped, so they needed some form of online engagement. What I really like about the Rocketspark approach is that 70 percent of web browsing is on mobile phones, and Rocketspark’s sites just work really well on a phone. It was really great for our pharmacies because most of their customers look their pharmacy up quickly on their phones to see if they’re open, find their phone number, order a repeat prescription or research the product they need.

“Rocketspark really has made the process enjoyable. We have been able to adapt and make changes, in a really short period of time, to improve the personalisation of each pharmacy’s website to make it easier for their customers.

“Our customers were blown away and were presently surprised by the cost, they said they didn’t even need to make a huge number of sales to make the money back, yet it gave them a fully functional ecommerce platform,” Stephen said.

Check out the ten sites here:


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