"An attractive online presence is an indispensable part of the marketing of a pharmacy today. However, this also needs to be continuously maintained and updated. It cannot be created statically once, like a business card, and then never be changed again."
Momentum: Dear Mrs. Magister, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us during these turbulent times. How are you and your business coping with the situation?
Mag. Wenkoff: "As everywhere, everything is different than usual, there is a lot to organize and constantly redesign. In this regard, digital media such as email, Facebook, WhatsApp, and the ELGA are currently also very helpful. We have split our team and are now working reduced hours, even though we are available for our customers throughout the entire opening hours. Since we have also set up a free delivery service for people in quarantine or belonging to a risk group, the help of technology is particularly welcome."
Momentum: You have built up the pharmacy network Team Santé, which was and still is a forward-looking idea - congratulations on this great achievement. Tell us more about your network and what sets you and your pharmacies apart.
Mag. Wenkoff: "We were nine Austrian pharmacists who formed under this brand in 2008 in response to the planned liberalization of the protected domestic pharmacy market by the EU. The founding of the franchise company Team Santé had the idea of giving future partners a competitive advantage and thus strengthening their market position. At the same time, we are meeting the increased customer needs in a rapidly developing digital world and constantly offer optimized services for our customers, as well as a jointly tested and proven training and many already proven marketing tools for this purpose."
Momentum: Now let's get to the core topic of our interview. Digitization is becoming increasingly important in many industries and is already a success factor in many cases - also for SMEs. From your point of view, how important is it for pharmacies to actively pursue digitization, for example, as a first step, to create an attractive online presence?
Mag. Wenkoff: "An attractive online presence is an essential part of the marketing of a pharmacy today. However, this must also be constantly monitored and maintained. It cannot be created once like a business card and then not be changed anymore. First and foremost, a good website must be created - especially for the recruitment of suitable employees, but also for good, clear information for business partners and customers. In addition, we must also increasingly use 'social media' in the pharmacy - create our own Facebook plan and select suitable employees who can manage it, as well as a partner who knows how to successfully manage the placements. There are a whole range of techniques that must be learned first. Maintaining the customer database regularly while observing all data protection regulations is not always easy for a single pharmacist, but it is necessary for mailings, newsletters, and other information that should keep the interested customer up-to-date."
Momentum: Following the above question, we are interested in what measures you have already taken as part of digitization and improving your online presence?
Mag. Wenkoff: "Through my partnership in our Team Santé group, I am well taken care of and receive ongoing support from external experts who support the online presence of my pharmacy very well. I, like probably some of my colleagues, am not an expert in digital media, but I can give the tip that pharmacies, as trading companies and an important part of our country's healthcare system, must definitely keep up with ongoing digitization. I highly recommend working with a reliable partner who takes care of the online presence on an ongoing basis, rather than just once for its development."
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Momentum: Given the current circumstances, we cannot avoid asking a question about the coronavirus. Many experts believe that the measures and impacts related to the virus will lead to an acceleration of digitization. How do you assess this trend for the pharmacy industry?
Mag. Wenkoff: "I fully agree with this. I believe that we are experiencing a tremendous boost in digitization through this crisis, especially in the pharmacy sector. The current rapid introduction of the Elga prescription - although still at the beginning of its development and in need of improvement - is an example of the need to always be agile and able to quickly respond to new circumstances. A well-functioning digital presence is a fundamental requirement for every pharmacy in this country."
Momentum: Finally, we would like to know what advice you would give to pharmacies in Austria regarding digitization?
Mag. Wenkoff: "As far as digitization is concerned, I am not an expert, but it is undisputed that we must keep up with the changes that are constantly happening. By that, I mean that we need partners or service providers, such as your company, to support us pharmacists where we are not absolute experts - especially when it comes to online presence and the use of digital tools in general. Through my partnership with Team Santé, I am not only well-supported and kept up-to-date, but also often one step ahead of others, thanks to the relevant digital expertise of our partners."