Progressive pharmacy franchiser Bienen-Apotheke improves customer engagement with Yext
‘Listings lets us update emergency pharmacy and other critical information from the Yext Platform to all publishers swiftly such that anyone who gets sick and needs medicine outside of the strictly regulated opening hours can find a pharmacy quickly and accurately.’
Bienen-Apotheke is a leading German franchiser with ~20 pharmacies located in and around Munich, Bavaria. The local pharmacy is essential to the highly regulated German market because most medications must be purchased in person at a local pharmacy, rather than online. Unlike in the United States, selling snacks at a pharmacy, for example, is forbidden. This means sick customers, whether they are tourists in need or the elderly, depend completely on a local pharmacy to provide them immediately with the prescription medications they need.
Strict laws governing online information and sales have typically discouraged pharmacies from establishing any online presence whether on social media or in e-commerce. Nonetheless, the dominance of digital and widespread adoption of mobile have become increasingly evident in recent years. "Everything is gravitating towards the internet, there is no getting around that. Not even for the most conservative German pharmacies," recognises Maria Grintz, Head of Marketing and Communications at the franchiser. Bienen-Apotheke, which considers its pharmacies among the most progressive in Germany, decided to invest in building a strong digital presence to improve engagement with its local customers and this led to a partnership with Yext.
"We chose Yext in part for its PowerListings Network so that we could have complete control over our pharmacy information’s accuracy online," Grintz explains. That is, Yext’s exclusive and proprietary integrations with 100+ of the most prominent search engines, local service sites and mapping apps empower Bienen-Apotheke to update all of its pharmacy information across the internet from one Yext Platform. The franchiser can thus make sure that its pharmacy information appears accurately and completely irrespective of how frequently that information changes.
Accurate opening hours are a particularly critical component of pharmacies’ digital presence, one that has been a challenge for the industry in general and had been for Bienen-Apotheke before it launched with Yext. "As German opening hours regulations are quite strict, pharmacies in every city take turns opening for 24 hours," explains Grintz. "The schedule for these 24-hour openings should be easily found online– lives could depend on it. However, the information is very hard to find online and rarely up to date. The same thing goes for regular opening hours," she adds. "Listings lets us update this information from the Yext Platform to all the publishers swiftly such that anyone who gets sick and needs medicine can actually find a pharmacy, quickly and accurately," says Grintz.
In addition to gaining control of its online listings, Bienen-Apotheke also selected Yext to spearhead its social media initiative on sites like Facebook and Foursquare. Although social media adoption in Germany is not nearly as widespread as it is in the US, Grintz predicts that gap will soon begin to close and wants her brand to be prepared when it does. "In one to two years when people catch on, as they do with such trends, we’ll have already been there for years and gained insight into what content makes sense for Germans and our specific brand." And this progressive approach is already paying off. "We had just launched our Facebook pages before starting with Yext, and after just a short time we have already seen our Facebook likes go up. We see how with Yext we can engage our local customers through social media much more easily," observes Grintz. "We realise that the more activity we do helps us hone how we present our brand."
In line with its progressive approach to its online presence, Bienen-Apotheke is already thinking beyond listings and social media. "We have developed an online shop, not to replace our in-store sales, but rather as a place to make extra profit," Grintz explains. "Online we sell almost everything but prescriptions. Your normal pain medication, cough syrup, anything you can buy without a prescription you can buy online, and we are honing in on strategies and techniques for geomarketing."
"In summary," Grintz concludes, "Yext helps us bring our brand identity to all channels efficiently—Facebook, Foursquare and every publisher on which we are listed. Yext makes communication easier. It lets us focus on creating content and a product that we want our customers to interact with and follow, as opposed to having to focus on getting it to all those places and losing quality along the way."