Mail-order Medication Kiosks
By Udo Bonnet, Retail Store Solutions Manager, Polygon
Germany is a quickly growing market for pharmaceuticals – in 2006, its total market volume for the sector was approximately €35 billion, and this is growing at a rate of 4% per year. In 2007, mail-order pharmacies enjoyed an estimated 4% share of total turnover; a market expected to reach about €1.9 billion by 2012, as consumers and health insurers are increasingly embracing theconvenience and cost savings on offer from the mail-order option. The Europa Apotheek Venlo pharmacy, headquartered in Venlo in the Netherlands, is certified by TÜV Nord and has a workforce of more than 180 employees. It is one of the leading mail-order pharmacies in the German market, as well as a partner to health insurers. As a full-service pharmacy, it specialises in supplying prescription pharmaceuticals to patients with chronic illnesses. Customers can order pharmaceuticals online or by fax, telephone or letter and then havethem delivered directly to their home.
In order to expand its service offering by making this service available to customers who do not have easy access to the internet, Europa Apotheek is now cooperating with the dm-drogerie markt stores, Germany’s largest supplier of drugstore products, with more than 1000 branches in Germany. The dmdrogerie markt chain operates as a pure logistics partner, simply making space available within its stores to Europa Apotheek and processing the outgoing goods. In the highly regulated German pharmaceutical market, medication may only be sold by ‘pharmaceutically trained staff ’ and only in licensed pharmacies, which means that dm-drogerie markt sales staff may not offer any advice on the products sold by Europa Apotheek Venlo. The sales staff can, however, offer assistance with the use of the terminal itself, which is particularly useful for customers unfamiliar with the interfaces involved in internet shopping. This is a very simple, but effective, case of a kiosk being used to bring the internet to the high street to enable consumers that are not online to enjoy the benefits, including cost savings and convenience, of this kind of retailing. If customers have any questions about certain pharmaceutical products, they can call a service hotline for advice in the privacy of their own home or from the shop itself.
During the test phase, the ‘Pharma Punkt’ terminal developed and produced by Polygon was initially installed in 220 dm-drogerie markt stores in Germany. The customer orders medication from the terminal and then collects it from the store one to two days later on presentation of their collection ticket and ID. Prescription medication can also be ordered in the same way, but, in this case, the customer places the prescription and order form in an envelope and posts the envelope in the designated collection box. Customers ordering from Europa Apotheek Venlo for the first time have to enter their personal details onscreen. When the registration and order processes have been completed, a collection ticket is printed, or, if the goods are to be delivered to the customer’s home address, an order confirmation is printed.
Customers can save up to 40% on all over-thecounter products. For all prescription medication, the mail-order pharmacy guarantees a bonus of at least €2.50 and a maximum of €15 per medication package. After the success of the test phase, the offer is being extended and customers can now order medication quickly and at low cost in more than 200 dm-drogerie markt stores.
The mail-order pharmacy only offers medication and health products that have been approved for distribution in Germany. “Safety is a primary concern for us. This is why we guarantee pharmaceutical support from German pharmacists via our dedicated hotline,” explains Klaus Gritschneder, Europa Apotheek Venlo board member. Furthermore, each order is checked for possible interactions. To prevent the risk of confusion, prescription medication is individually labelled with the patient’s details and dosage instructions and medication is always packed securely. dm-drogerie markt employees keep the delivery safe in a sealed package until collection. Customers collect their package on presentation of a collection ticket and ID, and payment is then made either by direct debit or bank transfer directly to the mail-order pharmacy. The Pharma Punkt terminal also offers an express service for the 1000 most frequently requested items of over-the-counter medication.If the goods are ordered before 5p.m. they can be collected from midday onwards on the next working day, making the service even quicker and more comprehensive. The order processes which take place in the pharmacy are certifiedby TÜV Nord in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001:2000.
Fitting in on the Floor
Polygon’s remit was to develop a kiosk that would integrate seamlessly into the existing rows of shelves in the dm-drogerie markt stores, which meant that the external dimensions were specified in advance. To reduce development times and costs, an existing piece of furniture that had previously been used for ordering photos was taken as a basis and the various components (book size PC, 17” touch screen display, 112mm thermal printer, barcode scanner) were then integrated into this. As dmdrogerie markt already operated a very successfulloyalty kiosk, as well as various photokiosks, the shop designers were anxious to avoid adding more free-standing kiosks to the already crowded store. Therefore, this new kiosk was designed to fit in with the existing shop designs in a way that was less intrusive and left a smaller footprint. This also enabled them to offer customers an even greater degree of privacy.