Chemist Warehouse putting customers first during its cloud transformation

The shift from on-premise to cloud is also expected to underpin the retailer's international expansion plans.

When Australian pharmacy retailer Chemist Warehouse decided to expand internationally and establish operations in Ireland in 2019, it still relied on its on-premise Microsoft Dynamics AX platform.

But the retailer, which now boasts a network of 500 franchises, realised to operate efficiently on a global scale and to further cement international expansion plans, it needed to move to a cloud-based platform.

According to Chemist Warehouse CIO Jules Cardinale, this has meant gradually transitioning the company to Microsoft's Dynamics 365 ERP platform.

"This transformation will ensure that all of our international franchises would operate on one platform, solving for any operational barriers, no matter their location," he told ZDNet.

"This will allow us to consistently manage and maintain the various systems across the world using best practice infrastructure with greater availability, scalability, and cost effectiveness than what our on-prem solution could afford us."

Cardinale pointed out how Chemist Warehouse has been using the cloud platform to connect systems that are necessary to pharmacy retail, such as dispensing and point of sale, as well as managing supply chain logistics, corporate billing, and the individual billing of each of its franchises. 

Read more: Chemist Warehouse looks to deploy 1,000 sensors at each store

Additionally, the shift to a cloud-based platform has enabled the Chemist Warehouse to develop additional services for customers, such as its Clinical Care Engine, a system that analyses what is in a customer's basket and identifies potential risks, such as contradictions between different medicines or products that a customer buys.

"For example, a customer might have an item in a basket known to cause stomach upsets, as well as an item to ease a stomach upset," Cardinale said.

"The Clinical Care Engine can alert the pharmacist to these examples of so-called 'poly-pharmacy' where a customer buys a product to ease a condition caused by another product. Armed with that insight the pharmacist can advise the customer about their best course of action."

He added that Chemist Warehouse is also exploring how artificial intelligence and the use of customer data can be integrated to provide further health and wellbeing insight to customers, such as potentially helping customers determine the risk of melanoma.

As part of next steps, Cardinale said the company is focused on the company's omnichannel strategy, including looking into introducing electronic prescriptions.

"Omnichannel is about receiving or buying goods from us in any way you want, whether that be click and collect in-store or click and deliver. We're continuing to expand our capabilities to ensure our customers are getting what they need when and where they please," he said.

Chemist Warehouse said it anticipates completing its cloud transformation by mid-2022. 

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