A keener digital presence in the pharmacy jungle
The Swedish government took over all pharmacies in 1971, creating Apoteksbolaget AB. For nearly 40 years, Apoteket was responsible for supplying pharmaceuticals to both consumers and the health and care sectors. Apoteket’s monopoly was ended on 1 July 2009. Due to increased competition from the new pharmacy chains, but perhaps above all competitive pressures from pure e-Tailing operations, Apoteket saw a need to enhance its digital presence in the pharmacy jungle. We readily accepted the task.
The stethoscope that picked up on the project’s viability
The project kicked off with a feasibility study, as is proper. Among other things, we mapped out envisaged effects together with Apoteket in order to clarify what effects and benefits the new site was to provide. The “subway map” that emerged from this process then guided us along our journey.
A true-to-life design concept
We then developed a design concept by relying, among other things, on use tests and interviews conducted with Apoteket’s customers and store staff. The concept had to hold water both for the consumer-facing site and for the part used by healthcare professionals. It also had to reflect the layout of a regular physical store.
A visit to reality
From the layout of a regular physical store
We continued to try out the concept, user experience and design in order to see how customers behaved during the purchase flow, how they navigated between the pages, what they thought of the service and what their thoughts were regarding their needs when purchasing medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter.
We also visited the hospital pharmacy in Uppsala. While there, we talked with Apoteket’s staff to learn about their needs and wishes. Partly when it comes to drug companies and hospitals, but also in terms of their own stores. We had the chance to observe the production of medicines, to see how the medicines were packaged and distributed, and to follow along the entire production chain, from order to delivery out in the hospital wards. This knowledge was very valuable when the time came to optimise the user experience for healthcare professionals and the companies that use Apoteket’s services.
An agile organisation and infrastructure
In order to be able to quickly respond to new or changing needs and requirements, we set up an infrastructure to enable automatic daily releases. In the past, updates were released at night every few months, which, apart from the long interval that passed between changes, meant high inherent risks due to the significant scope of each release. Being able to continuously release updates and deployments into the production environment was a prerequisite for really being able to use the agile methodology. In addition to putting the technical infrastructure in place, together with Apoteket we implemented the procedural transformation required in order to be able to act really quickly. An important part of the new infrastructure was the switch from CMS to EPiServer. This made it easier for editors to work on their content, campaigns and promotions with the least possible dependence on development work.
A healthy team
We had a cross-functional team in place throughout the project, in which designers and developers employed the agile methodology in close proximity to Apoteket’s product owners and other stakeholders. As giving advice is a large part of what Apoteket does, the content was also an important part of the project, a part that involved working closely with Apoteket’s copy editors to refine and develop new content and to optimise the site for search engines. or ‘online retail’ if you prefer.