By Zoran Lemut
Kemofarmacija is the leading wholesaler of healthcare products in Slovenia, offering customers more than 16,000 different products ranging from medicine and medical devices, to nutritional and cosmetic products. Though we have enjoyed the industry leadership position, we only recently began to fully exploit our online sales channel. It was an area that we knew required analysis and insight of our growing data volumes – our Big Data.
While more and more of our customers were looking to make their purchases online, our competitors were over taking us with more aggressive web-driven sales models. We were not maximizing opportunities for cross-selling or more targeted online marketing and on top of it all, our website was simply not easy to navigate. Our challenge was as simple as it was profound: update our online operation to meet the needs of the evolving market.
With the IT and marketing divisions working side by side we envisioned a plan to use technology to drive more profitable sales – through tailored website advertisements and promotions, offering customers the products they wanted at the right time. But, for this plan to be successful, we first needed to gain greater insight into our online customer base.
What we needed were insights to our customers’ preferences. We needed to mine, sift through and analyze our Big Data. Then, based on these insights, our marketing teams could promote specific products for strategic time periods and fine-tune the forecast for marketing campaigns.
Working closely with IBM and its partner MZR we designed a new IT infrastructure capable of giving us the advanced analytics and cloud capabilities we needed to transform our business.
Now, utilizing an IBM Power System server running WebSphere and other key software tools, we are able to offer our customers a personalized online shopping experience, automatically promoting different ad spots to different customer segments. This capability has significantly increased the amount of sales orders placed through the company’s web portal, and the average customer-spend per visit. Measureable results include:
- 30 percent increase in online sales order lines;
- more than 90 percent of all sales order lines now processed through our web portal;
- improved cross-sales by presenting more targeted product recommendations, encouraging customers to buy more during every visit; and
- as a result of the increase in online sales orders, we have been enabled to transfer a number of staff from our call centers into higher-value areas, such as field sales and marketing.
Added together, these results have translated into sustained market leadership, with an estimated 42 percent share of the market.
I believe the best medicine for companies right now is to think about the role that Big Data analytics can play in their business. If they fail to transform in this way, their competitors will figure it out, and by then it will be too late.