Creating a seamless online purchase and delivery experience for a Pharmacy

Komal Lakhanpal
8 min readNov 16, 2021

UX Case Study | Chemist Warehouse

Hypothetical Client: Chemist Warehouse Group, Australia.
Sprint Duration: 2 weeks | Team of 4

My Role: As part of the team, I participated in User Research, Contextual Inquiry, Task Analysis, Research Synthesis, Identifying Personas and their Challenges, Building Scenarios and Journey Maps, Ideation, Brainstorming, Wireframing, and Prototyping.

Project Summary

The Challenge

Our client, Chemist Warehouse, were looking for a solution that would encourage their customers to use the pharmacy website instead of shopping in-store.

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Chemist Warehouse needed to temporarily shut its doors. During this time, they received a significantly higher volume of enquiries and orders and struggled to meet the demands of their customers. The task was to create a seamless, contactless shopping experience, and boost their online sales and presence.

What we found

On assessing the current Chemist warehouse website, we found that our client already had a Free Fast Delivery service that offered a contactless shopping experience. However, website users were unaware of this delivery option. They were also particularly unclear about what products were in stock vis a vis their location. This made them feel that they’re better off walking or driving 5 minutes to their nearest Chemist Warehouse and buying in-store — which isn’t ideal during a global pandemic.

The Solution

Our proposed solution intends to address these issues by strategically placing information related to product stock & delivery on the website so users know which products and delivery options are available to them (based on their location) right from the get go.

Research Methodology

To begin the project, we drew up a list of questions to better understand:

  • The pharmacy industry landscape and how COVID-19 had impacted it.
  • Chemist Warehouse’ business and revenue streams.
  • Why people shop at Chemist Warehouse and what they expect from an online shopping experience.

We used 4 different research methods to gather this data from, namely

  • Market Research
  • Task Analysis
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • User Interviews

Market Research

The impact of COVID-19 on the pharmacy industry and e-commerce

  • The pharmacy industry benefited from an unprecedented sales surge in March 2020 due to stockpiling behaviour, but this has since tapered off.
  • E-commerce in Australia saw a YOY growth of 23.4% from 2020 to 2021.
  • The Health and Beauty segment saw a 2% decrease in online sales.

About Chemist Warehouse and the Pharmacy industry

On mapping the industry landscape, we found that Chemist Warehouse stores are ubiquitous with upwards of 400 stores across Australia. In an industry worth 22 Bn, they hold a considerable percentage of the market share and the two main sides of it’s business are:

  • Retail: Beauty and Personal Care Products
  • Prescriptions and Scheduled Medications

While other pharmacy groups generate a majority of their revenue from prescriptions & scheduled medications, Chemist Warehouse draws a big portion of its profits through retail product sales.

Competitive/Comparative Analysis

Digging deeper into the industry revealed that direct competitors (new online only pharmacies) were contending for prescription profits, and comparable businesses were offering up fast affordable delivery options, a diverse retail product range, loyalty programs and a strong e-commerce infrastructure & logistics.

User Interviews

One important thing we learned from the market research was that the pharmacy industry has quite a broad customer range. There are three segments — Consumers aged 45 to 64, Consumers aged 65 and over and all other consumers, with all three segments spread out almost equally. With this knowledge in hand, we conducted 25 interviews (via Zoom) with participants aged 20 to 82yrs.

Affinity Mapping | Why users shop in-store at Chemist Warehouse

We found that the three main reasons why people shop in-store at Chemist Warehouse are:

  • Cheap product pricing.
  • A large product range.
  • A large number of conveniently located stores.
Affinity Mapping | What users expect from a typical online experience

What users expect from a typical online shopping experience:

  • Clear website layout.
  • Easy product search and filter functions.
  • Unbiased product reviews.
  • Quick trackable parcel deliveries.

Asessing the current task flow on the Chemist Warehouse webstore

We knew what users expected from a typical e-commerce experience. Therefore to gauge the current experience on the Chemist Warehouse website, we conducted a usability test with 7 participants. Their task was to purchase a specific bottle of Vitamins and to select the free fast delivery option as their preferred delivery method.

Current product search and purchase flow on the Chemist Warehouse

Here’s what we found:

  • All participants completed the task and took an average of 4 minutes for it.
  • Most users were overwhelmed, even distracted by the volume and visual treatment of the advertisements.
  • Participants found it difficult to understand what stock & delivery options were available to them vis a vis their location leading to a frustrating checkout experience.

These factors led to low online engagement and a very poor experience overall.

Who are we designing for?

The usability test gave us great insight into the number of issues users were having with the current website. However, before jumping to solutions we took a closer look at who we were going to design for. The two key personas that emerged from mapping our user interview data were:

Persona 1

  • Is an avid online shopper.
  • Wants quick access to Chemist Warehouse and doesn’t want to waste too much time browsing.
  • Mainly purchases personal care items.
  • Looks for cheap prices.

Persona 2

  • A more elderly customer.
  • Don’t shop online as much.
  • Goes to pharmacies for medical purposes.
  • Concerned with customer support.

Since one of Chemist Warehouse’s business goals was to increase online sales, and a majority of their revenue comes from retail sales, we decided to look further into Persona 1, the avid online shopper: In and Out Irene.

Persona 1: In and Out Irene

Irene needs clear information on stock availability and delivery options on the website so that she can order personal care items quickly.

Irene’s current journey

How might we make the Chemist Warehouse website less visually overwhelming?

How might we provide clear information about stock availability and delivery options?

How might we help boost Chemist Warehouse’ online sales?

Ideation and Design development

We knew from mapping some of the user interview data that a majority of our participants were using desktops for online shopping because comparing products and prices was easier to do using multiple tabs on a desktop browser. Therefore, when ideating on the how might we statements, our team concentrated on brainstorming solutions for the desktop site.

Some of the solutions included:

  • A cleaner website layout where advertisements only appear on one side of the homepage.
  • A postcode entry prompt on the homepage.
  • Faceted navigation on the product category page.
  • Marketing suggestions to encourage instore shoppers to shop online.

We then collaborated on integrating the above features across the product purchase and checkout flow.

Wireflow ~ The Happy Path

We created a clickable low fidelity prototype using Marvel and on testing the it with 5 users we found that:

  • Participants were able to complete the task successfully without errors
  • Most participants were not happy with the scale and placement of the postcode overlay.
  • Stock information and delivery selection needed to appear sooner rather than later in the process.
  • All participants expected email confirmations after the order had been placed.

Based on this feedback, we refined the solution and developed a mid fidelity prototype using Figma. Watch the video below to see it in action!

Mid Fidelity Prototype | The Happy Path

Some of the proposed solutions include:

  • Taking away promotional ads that distracted and overwhelmed the users, resulting in a cleaner website layout.
  • Adding a postcode overlay on the homepage so users are aware of which delivery options are available to them right at the start of the user flow.
  • Faceted navigation on the product category page, so users can find their items from the large catalogue quickly.
  • Reinforcing information on postcode and available delivery options on multiple pages across the purchase flow.

While this project didn’t go so far as to test the mid-fidelity prototype, in my opinion, the most important metric to test the user flow would be time. Chemist Warehouse’s stores are plenty and conveniently located. Most of our interview participants said they’re only about a 5minute drive or 10 min walk away from the physical store. If the website experience is frustrating in addition to having to wait for a delivery, it would discourage them from using the webstore altogether.

Reflections

Solve one thing at a time!

Let’s be honest. There’s so much to fix on the current website. What may work for Chemist Warehouse’ in-store experience (and by this I mean the aisle full of products and discount stickers everywhere), doesn’t necessarily work on a flat screen. That visual treatment makes it harder for users to navigate the website and eventually hurts profits.

We were keen on trying to solve everything at once. We changed the homepage layout, added faceted navigation on the category page and broke down the checkout flow into 3 pages. However, in case studies such as this one, where we’re tweaking an existing system, it helps to prioritise which change is most necessary, impactful or doable. Just like an experiment has a control, sprints like these benefit from changing only one thing at a time in order to better assess the success or failure of the solution.

Working Together

I’d like to give a shout out to our amazing multidisciplinary team. Drawing up a team charter before starting the project helped us immensely in laying the foundation for what turned out to be a super efficient team. We shared our strengths and asked for help where needed.

Both Olivia and Ana have a background in healthcare and were extremely helpful in scoping market trends in the pharmacy industry. Ana’s prowess in project management helped us stay on track and on time. Jordan and myself shared our knowledge on web design, using Figma and creating clickable prototypes with the rest of the team. Everyone got a chance to participate in all parts of this endeavour and we ended up learning a lot along the way.

I’d also like to thank everyone who took out the time to participate in usability tests and user interviews with us 🙏.

References

Author, Arna. R (2021). IBISWorld Industry report G4271a: Pharmacies in Australia. Retrieved from www.ibisworld.com

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Komal Lakhanpal

Komal is an experience designer with a keen interest in health and sustainability.