Europa Apotheek: Print and web equally important
Europa Apotheek has found the perfect prescription. By developing both its catalogues and its online activities, the pharmacy is able to reach new customer groups and optimise its marketing and distribution costs.
Since its launch in 2001, Europa Apotheek has grown at an impressive rate, taking it to its current position as one of Europe’s largest mail order pharmacies. The company sells prescription medicines and other pharmacy products via mail order to customers in Germany and the Netherlands. In February 2010, it acquired one of the leading online pharmacies shop-apotheke. com, giving Europa Apotheek access to a new sales channel. The integration of the two companies also enables a much wider range to be offered to customers.
Both the companies are seeing a positive trend in their market areas, so there are certainly some attractive synergies to be had, not least when it comes to marketing and sales.
“We want to take the best of both worlds. Essentially, Europa Apotheek will be made stronger in the digital field and shop-apotheke.com will get a boost from brand materials,” explains Sven Schirmer, Head of Brand Strategy & Communications.
Europa Apotheek’s mail order catalogue is published four times a year and has a circulation of 300 000 copies. The format is slightly smaller than A4 and has an insert of 96 pages. In addition, the company also produces various much slimmer specialist catalogues each year in areas such as beauty products. These specialist catalogues have a combined circulation of close to one million per year.
In recent years, the company has implemented a cost optimisation programme across the whole chain from production to distribution. One of the most important points has been the choice of paper. After careful testing of various alternatives, the decision was made to switch from coated paper to the uncoated Holmen VIEW.
“Of course the lower price played an important role, but we were all impressed by the high print quality and lovely feeling that this uncoated paper gave us. So in the end, the choice was quite easy,” says Sven Schirmer.
The fact that, with its high volume, Holmen VIEW enabled Europa Apotheek to reduce the weight – from 70 g to 55 g – while still retaining the catalogue’s sturdy feel 5 Sven Schirmer brought further cost savings. For one thing, it was possible to print more pages per tonne of paper, while the lighter catalogues also brought down distribution costs. This resource efficiency makes Holmen VIEW a perfect fit for Europa Apotheek’s long-term goals regarding environmental and climate issues.
“As a result of our optimisation programme, overall costs across the chain have been brought down by a sizeable 33 per cent. Changing the paper is only part of this, but it’s an important part that has paved the way for lower costs in other areas such as distribution and printing,” comments Patrick Schneider, Head of CRM & Cooperations, and the person responsible for the company’s catalogue production.
Shop-apotheke.com, which has been part of the Europa Apotheek Group for over four years, is a pure online pharmacy that focuses on non-prescription medicines and a wide range of products in areas such as beauty,
“In the future, we’ll be using print materials much more actively as ‘teasers’ for the range available at shop-apotheke.com,” says Patrick Schneider.
This combination of mail order and online sales – and of print and digital as elements of a multi-channel strategy – is also a key indicator of the direction of travel that the Europa Apotheek Group has committed to. The integration of shop-apotheke.com has given the Group access to a much wider range of more onlinefocused target groups. However, the customers can still continue to purchase pharmacy products via traditional mail order and also send in their prescriptions and have medication sent to their home.
“As I said, it’s the best of both worlds,” concludes Patrick Schneider.
About Europa Apotheek
founded in 2001 in the Dutch town of Venlo, just a few kilometres from the German border. This remains the centre for sales and distribution to mail order customers in Germany and the Netherlands. The company carries a complete range of pharmaceuticals and focuses particularly on patients with chronic illnesses such as MS, diabetes, HIV and asthma, as well as patients with various cardiovascular diseases. The facility in Venlo employs around 400 people.
In 2010, online pharmacy shop-apotheke.com was integrated into Europa Apotheek, increasing the range by a further 100 000 non-prescription medicines and products in areas such as health, personal care and beauty.
Europa Apotheek is the second-largest distance selling pharmacy, with over 1.2 million customers. In addition to the facility in Venlo, there is a growing office in Cologne, where the entire Group’s marketing activities are coordinated, including the company’s catalogue publication.
“We want customers to know what we’re doing and why”
A company whose mission is customer health also has to think about the health of the wider world too – the climate and the environment – according to the management at Europa Apotheek. And that makes the choice of paper important. If you produce around 1.3 million catalogues per year, you have to do it in a responsible way.
Patrick Schneider, who is responsible for Europa Apotheek’s catalogue production, stresses that a responsible company should tell its customers how and why it makes its important environmental decisions. When Europa Apotheek launched its mail order catalogue in a new format and on a new paper last year, a full page was therefore given over to explaining the choices that had been made. Under the heading ‘Contributing to the health of our world’ the piece set out how the smaller and lighter catalogue contained just as many attractive offers as before, making it more resource efficient and better for the environment without any downsides for customers.
Europa Apotheek also relates that the environment was a major consideration in choosing to print the new catalogue on Holmen VIEW. With its high bulk and low weight, the “We want customers to know what we’re doing and why” A company whose mission is customer health also has to think about the health of the wider world too – the climate and the environment – according to the management at Europa Apotheek. And that makes the choice of paper important. If you produce around 1.3 million catalogues per year, you have to do it in a responsible way. paper makes efficient use of resources and helps ensure sustainable production.
“We inform readers that, for every tree harvested, Holmen plants another three, so that forest resources are growing. Furthermore, Holmen has long used renewable energy, which is also good for the climate.”
Europa Apotheek intends to continue informing its customers, via various channels, about what the company does to reduce its impact on the environment and the climate.
“Maintaining such an open dialogue across several channels is part of Europa Apotheek’s approach to corporate social responsibility,” says Patrick Schneider.
“A little spruce piqued our curiosity”
It was a little spruce seedling that prompted the first contact between Europa Apotheek and Holmen Paper. Patrick Schneider and a few colleagues were at a trade fair in Nuremberg when their curiosity was piqued by a stand handing out spruce seedlings to visitors. Patrick wondered what was going on and was soon in possession of his own spruce, as well as getting a quick presentation of Holmen from Holmen Paper’s representative, Dirk Goetz.
“We were impressed that they didn’t want to just ply us with paper samples, but explained Holmen’s whole philosophy about forestry in its own forests, ecoaware industrial processes, renewable energy and so on.” However, the catalogue samples printed on Holmen VIEW also attracted Patrick’s interest, so this first meeting was followed by more.
“Today we buy all the paper for our biggest catalogues from Holmen Paper and see them as one of our long-term partners. All thanks to a little spruce seedling,” says Patrick Schneider with a smile.