Even before the pandemic, Australia’s Terry White Chemmart had experienced a significant growth in flu vaccinations in the previous five years, thanks to its successful pilot program in Queensland in 2015 led by pharmacy pioneers Terry and Rhonda White. In fact, Terry White has the largest network of vaccinating pharmacies in Australia and represents 25 per cent of all pharmacist-administrated flu shots.
So when Covid hit, the team snapped into action to support their 400 vaccinating pharmacies to deliver a safe, professional and vaccination experience for Australians in 2021 and beyond. Their overall aim was to remove all barriers around accessing vaccinations for Australians and also demonstrate leadership in the area.
But this time, the Terry White team developed and implemented a six-part program to arm their network with the skills and knowledge to offer a quality vaccination experience. Before rolling out the program, Terry White conducted research to understand vaccine hesitation to help their pharmacists sensitively communicate with Australians, but also devise an effective PR and marketing campaign. The research was also used to identify any potential barriers that would prevent people from visiting a pharmacy for their flu shot, one of which related to systems inefficiencies.
In response, Terry White partnered with booking platform HealthEngine to develop a seamless and hassle-free booking experience.
As of mid-November, more than 450,000 Australians had booked in for their Covid-19 vaccine and more than 350,000 vaccinations have been delivered to date. Meanwhile, more than 10 per cent more patients are booking in for their second vaccination than the first, suggesting customers are recognising the ease and convenience of receiving their vaccination.
Before the Covid-19 vaccination rollout, Terry White’s core customer base was made up of over-50s, but since then, close to half of all bookings for patients have been under the age of 39.
“This year, we’ll do over 1.5 million vaccinations within the network,” executive general manager Nick Munroe told Inside Retail. “Pharmacy is evolving really quickly, we’re really at the frontline of that. So we’re strapping ourselves in, making sure we’re evolving and staying ahead of it. It’s a really exciting environment to be in.”
Like many retailers, Munroe admitted that Terry White Chemmart is still trying to learn how to operate in this new “Covid-normal” environment and despite the rocky past couple of years, the business is trading at more than 10 per cent up on last year across its network. This is largely because Terry White’s customer base has substantially expanded since Covid hit.
“There are a lot of people now shopping in pharmacy who would not have considered shopping there pre-Covid. That’s happening at a time when attracting frontline health workers or even attracting frontline retail workers has never been more challenging,” he said.
“We’re trading well but we’re operating in a difficult environment for attracting talent into retail or pharmacy. We just need to find smarter and better ways to operate, so from a support office point of view, we’re investing a lot in trying to find as many efficiencies as possible within our pharmacies.”
Retail expert and Retailer Awards judge Jason Pallant praised the business’ ability to immerse themselves within the community and align with its values during a particularly challenging time.
“The remarkable thing about Terry White’s vaccination program was that it was more than a retail offer, it had a real and measurable community benefit. The key to successful experiential retail is that it must align with the brands values, and there is no clearer example of that than Terry White working to be at the centre of the Covid vaccination rollout,” he said.
“The importance and impact of this program is clear at a community level, but it also showed strong results at store level, attracting new customers into stores. Overall, it was a great example of how retailers can provide real value to their local communities for mutual benefits.”