How SAP and Qualtrics Helped Sigma Weather the COVID Crisis


Sigma Healthcare, one of Australia’s largest pharmacy networks and major pharmaceutical wholesalers, leverages the power of combining X (experience) and O (operational) data to drive unprecedented B2B CX and business outcomes with SAP and Qualtrics. Luke Shaw, Head of E-commerce at Sigma, discusses how this strategy helped the company navigate the COVID19 crisis and effectively support their more than 1200 branded independent pharmacies during SAP’s virtual SAPPHIRE event.

Sigma Healthcare’s digital transformation journey began four years ago. That journey accelerated last year when the company partnered with Accenture to develop Sigma Connect, an ordering platform integrated with SAP Commerce Cloud and Qualtrics XM (experience management).

This transformation and the new platform have helped Sigma not only effectively manage the sudden increase in order volumes due to the COVID19 crisis, but more importantly, provide the necessary support to its partner pharmacies and hospitals across Australia.

According to Shaw, through insights from SAP and Qualtrics, the company was able to deliver the products, services, and support that the community and customers needed. For example, in response to customer needs, Sigma ramped up their online projects and initiatives (originally planned to be released later in the year) to ensure that their pharmacy and bricks and mortar stores stayed relevant. The company also upped its communication frequency from weekly and monthly to daily product-specific information updates.

Moreover, Shaw says Sigma is seeing potential growth in the telehealth space as the country enters the “new normal” economy. The company is also further developing Sigma Connect into a “community” platform where customers can see important information tailored to their needs and keep them updated on what’s happening and what the industry best practices are in navigating the crisis.

From Old to New with SAP and Qualtrics

Previously, Sigma Healthcare’s warehouse and ordering system was highly antiquated. Customers used to send purchase orders through fax and they had to wait until those were submitted to get accurate pricing. The process for product-return requests included a 2-3 minute long phone call to provide the customer with a return code, write that code on a piece of paper, pin that piece of paper onto the product and wait for the truck to come. Clearly, the company’s legacy system was not providing them the visibility and clarity of its work process.

Shaw pointed out that being a conventional and long-standing wholesaler, the technology to “move boxes” hasn’t changed much, which was why they stayed on the old-fashioned system for so long. However, as Sigma realized that focusing on customers’ needs (versus what Sigma wanted as a company), was the right path to driving a better business, the company saw that their existing technology stack just wasn’t up to scratch. They needed something that can help them connect more deeply with customers to ensure that they are meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations.

X + O Data for Business Agility

Since implementing the new SAP and Qualtrics-integrated Sigma Connect platform to combine X and O data, Sigma has seen a reduction in technology errors by 10-folds, an 8% uptick in average order volume, a 30% increase in share of revenue from the customer portal, and a 50% to +400% increase in sales for promoted deals. Key changes that contributed to these results include:

  • the functionality to show customers live information and personalised pricing 
  • the introduction of self-service functionality to improve customer experience while lowering customer service costs
  • the automation of the ordering and returns processes which significantly reduced errors and improved efficiency
  • the capability to constantly monitor customer engagement and gain a holistic view of the customer experience journey

With the technology from SAP Commerce Cloud, the company was able to offer customers faster checkout times, clearer product details, and 100% order traceability. Through Qualtrics experience management (XM) insights, Sigma was able to capture and analyse customer feedback in real-time. This quick access to important data from customers gave the company the opportunity to measure back whether something worked or didn’t and make better business decisions to drive continuous improvements.

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