Digital transformation is a mega trend influencing all industries. Using technology to change the way business is done is challenging, but it offers opportunities to boost growth and increase customer value as never before. We sat down with Grant Abrahams, Head of Betterlife and e-Commerce for Celesio UK, recently to learn more about how digital transformation is evolving, and what it really means for customers.
Grant is a company manager at the centre of the digitalisation storm. He leads the Betterlife and Lloydspharmacy.com businesses and is overseeing the development of the B2C omnichannel strategy for the United Kingdom (UK), so he is knee-deep in the digital technology revolution of the business.
At the heart of the UK’s digitalisation efforts is the omnichannel strategy, which ensures all channels interact with each other and deliver the same level of service and capability. The result is a seamless buying experience for customers no matter what channel they procure from – mobile, tablets, telesales, apps or in-store. “It’s about the customer having the same kind of interaction, the same personalisation of services,” says Grant.
It’s about customer value and commercial benefit across all channels.Grant Abrahams, Head of Betterlife and e-Commerce, Celesio UK
Betterlife is currently Celesio UK’s fully omnichannel company. It started off as a pure digital business and has since expanded to bricks-and-mortar stores and a third-party channel business (selling through LloydPharmacy stores and other pharmacies).
Lloydspharmacy, which began as a traditional bricks-and-mortar business, is growing its digital channel, but Grant stresses it needs to develop quickly in order to stay competitive. Two new digital services, Click & Collect (products ordered online for next-day pick up at a store) and the LloydsPharmacy Prescription Delivery Service (repeat prescription medicines delivered free to home or office), are big steps in that direction.
According to Grant, the biggest trend in digital B2C marketing is personalisation: “Whatever device you’re shopping on, it is a personal journey. Are you seeing services and products relevant for you?” The UK needs to maintain its investment in operational and IT infrastructure to fully develop this capability, he says.
The businesses have made great strides toward implementing the omnichannel strategy, but there’s still a long way to go. The biggest barriers? Culture, speed and infrastructure, says Grant. In fact, when it comes to delivering a seamless customer experience, he argues company culture is the most important factor.
“Behaviour changes when employees think about all the channels,” he believes. If a customer can’t find a product in a store, for example, an employee should assist them in finding it online. He admits there’s still work to do to instill what seamless customer service means.
Grant wants to move as quickly as possible with the digital transformation of the business and worries about the speed of deployment: “Going forward, if we don’t roll out the digitalisation strategy quickly, we’re going to be left behind.” That said, business is growing rapidly. LloydsPharmacy Prescription Delivery Service has already grown significantly in the three months since it launched. And Click & Collect is on target to offer customers 20,000 products by the financial year end – that’s compared to a mere 700 products the service offered when it started last year.
As for the future, Grant has a lot of ideas on the table. He would like to see the business develop artificial intelligence tools (similar to Apple’s Siri) that act as personal shoppers. These ask the customer questions, build knowledge based on the answers and suggest solutions.
In addition, he wants to make the business leaner and give customers online access to a store stockfile. They can see immediately if a product is available at their local store and can reserve it for pick-up.
Although he’s been part of Celesio UK since 2010, Grant still maintains the drive and motivation that helped him succeed as an entrepreneur. He co-founded Betterlife in 2004 and quickly built it up to be the UK’s largest internet and mail order retailer of mobility and disability living aids and products. After Betterlife was acquired by LloydsPharmacy five years later, he stayed on to continue overseeing its growth and to take on additional challenges. A true “intrapreneur” who now wears several hats, Grants says it takes a lot of stamina to stay on top of it all, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.