Digital Transformation and Customer Relationships: the keys to success for pharmaceutical companies


The health sector is going digital at all levels. Making appointments with healthcare professionals, online consultations, dematerialized prescriptions, remote transmission of treatment sheets, and shared medical records systems: healthcare users' journey is increasingly digital. This new ecosystem is a real opportunity for pharmaceutical companies. How to seize it?

Here are three useful insights that can help you develop your strategy.

1. Support pharmacies and drugstores to strengthen their online sales

Since 2013, French pharmacies can sell drugs online without a prescription. And they are the only ones who can do it legally. To date, however, few of them have an e-commerce site. Only 2.5% of the 22,000 pharmacies have launched their online platform (compared to 14% in Germany). Online sales of non-prescription drugs represent barely 2% of the French market - while worldwide, this figure reaches 20%. For comparison, online sales of OTC pharmacy (unprotected sector and open to all vendors) represents more than 5% of the French market, i.e., a turnover of around 240 million euros per year - with rates of double-digit annual growth.

There is, therefore, great potential for growth in France and outside for the online sale of medicines. And pharmaceutical companies have the means to support pharmacies in their online sales - by training them, advising them, and providing them with the appropriate tools. If the regulations evolve as expected, pharmaceutical companies may also soon create their e-commerce pla tform, shared between all their distributors.

2. Improve final customer communications

In this new omnichannel health and well-being ecosystem, the final consumer tends to "get closer" to pharmaceutical companies. Thanks to digital technology and social media, anyone can contact the brand and its employees directly - to request information or advice and sometimes express an opinion or even make a complaint. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies must learn, like all brands, the delicate art of "community management" and "e-reputation" to successfully build lifelong customer relationships.

Consumers are not looking for an exclusively digital relationship. They expect an increasingly hybrid and personalized customer journey, with fully immersive and seamless experiences. Welcome to the era of "phygital", a mix of "physical" and "digital". For example, consumers of pharmaceutical and OTC products want to order on the Internet and collect their purchases at the neighborhood pharmacy. Some also want to call the laboratory hotline and be redirected to the nearest pharmacy to obtain a healthcare professional's personalized response. This relative disintermediation is therefore NOT done to the detriment of pharmacists, quite the opposite. They continue to play a crucial role in providing information and service to final consumers. Therefore, this direct relationship does not challenge the various players' position in the traditional value chain: the retail pharmaceutical representative remains the trainer, the pharmacist as an adviser, and the phamraceutical company as a federator, the guarantor of its brand and also product quality.

3. Choosing the right CRM to optimize your omnichannel marketing strategy

To respond to these changes, CRM tools dedicated to the pharmaceutical sector must evolve. We have to move from a "sell-in / sell-out" traditional model to a customer-oriented omnichannel approach. From this perspective, the functionalities in terms of information sharing and data processing are fundamental. Therefore, it is better to choose a perfect CRM solution in terms of security, accessibility, and business know-how. These dimensions are essential for establishing optimal and lasting collaboration between the laboratory, the CRM vendor, and the pharmacy, with the common objective of effectively meeting final consumers' expectations.

The omnichannel approach also aims to include all the players in a virtuous circle, ultimately transforming the delighted final consumer into a brand and its product prescriber. Therefore, the product promotion strategy passes through traditional channels via pharmaceutical representatives, actions in points of sale, and the final users (mainly via social networks).

Therefore, it is better to migrate quickly to an intelligent, agile, and pharmaceutical industry-specific CRM tool in this new complex environment, which will become the spearhead of the laboratory's omnichannel strategy.