Sigma's customer experience-led digital overhaul proved beneficial during COVID-19

Not 12 months ago, customers were still ordering supplies via fax.

Sigma Healthcare boasts one of the largest pharmacy networks in Australia, with over 1,200 branded and independent stores. Sigma is also expanding its presence in the hospital pharmacy services and other healthcare service adjacencies.

Speaking via video at SAP's virtual Sapphire event, Sigma head of e-commerce Luke Shaw said the company had only started ramping up its transformation a few years ago, but its focus on digital proved beneficial when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia.

"There's nothing like a crisis to focus people's minds," he said. "What was due to be released later this year is right on the cusp of being released right now."

Shaw said customer experience is of high importance to Sigma and as a result, that's where it shifted its business focus.

"In 2018 we shifted our focus from what Sigma wanted to do as a company to what our customers actually needed," Shaw explained.

"We saw that our technology stack wasn't up to the task, our legacy systems were antiquated and very fixed, so we partnered with SAP Commerce to provide a new wholesale ordering platform."

He said Sigma realised that was where it needed to deliver a better service.

"About six months later, we put the Qualtrics platform in on top of that and we were able to get feedback from every single customer across Australia, everyone that we serviced, everyone that was ordering from us, and actually really see and hear what they needed from us," he said.

"So by measuring not only our net promoter scores … across time, we're also able to take key, verbatim feedback, put that into our tech stack priority list, and then deliver them the things that really made the difference for our customers."

He called it the "true turning point" in delivering customer experience and the technology capability that allowed Sigma to deliver on its promise.

"The SAP Commerce platform enabled personalisation for our stores, Qualtrics gives amazing analytical capability to a simple business user to be able to understand and … make decisions on what's going to happen next," Shaw continued.

"Not so long ago our pharmacies were ordering from us via fax -- that's within the last 12 months or-so -- so technology has given us a huge leap forward."

Sigma has also ramped up its telehealth capability in the face of COVID-19 and Shaw said this is where the business can see growth.

He said fixing the aging technology issues allowed Sigma to provide up to date product information and ordering capabilities, while also providing customers with a central point to access important information in a tailored fashion.

"We're able to not just blanket email the entire customer base, but use that technology to clearly deliver information and help keep them up to date in what's happening and what's best practice," he said.

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