Blooms The Chemist

The experience of rapidly enabling its support team to operate effectively from home during COVID lockdowns by switching to RingCentral’s platform was the catalyst for Blooms The Chemist to offer RingCentral as the preferred UCaaS platform to its network of pharmacies across Australia. The result has made a cost-effective, enterprise-grade, flexible telephony service accessible to individual pharmacies of all sizes, regardless of location.
Blooms The Chemist logo
The RingCentral model works so well because even though each store is effectively a small business making its own decisions, we can offer them an enterprise-grade experience.

Martin Olds

CIO, Blooms The Chemist
  • RingCentral providing an immediate solution to enable rapid switch to work-from-home support operations.
  • Flexible deployment model ensuring individual stores can switch to RingCentral based on their preferred schedule and with their own customised configuration.
  • eFax capabilities supporting Blooms The Chemist’s productivity and efficiency goals.
  • Simplification of shared services model with consolidation of UCaaS services into monthly technology service fees.
Sydney, Australia
Blooms The Chemist was established in 1980 when a group of passionate pharmacists had an ambition to build a successful partnership network and help younger aspiring pharmacists own their own pharmacy practice. In a market where community pharmacies are declining, Blooms The Chemist has been demonstrating robust, long-term growth for more than a decade. Its focussed strategy of consolidating resources to enable its pharmacies to compete and thrive in local communities is paying off. In 2000, Blooms The Chemist’s network was made up of 28 pharmacies, now there are more than 100 stores nationwide with more than 2,000 team members.
Operating a centralised shared services model to support its network of independently owned stores, Blooms The Chemist had to adapt rapidly to COVID-19 in early 2020. While most of Australia
went into lockdown, in March 2020 the network of pharmacies experienced an increase of customers seeking support, advice and guidance in managing their healthcare needs during an unprecedented time. Those stores needed their support office technical assistance more than ever, but Blooms The Chemist CIO Martin Olds faced a major challenge – how to enable his support office to be fully effective working from home. One of the biggest issues was a rigid telephony environment with an on-site PABX.
“We had to completely transfer our support office to a work from home model in a week, but we had a physical issue in how we could even install telephony equipment and connect our team. We realised RingCentral could provide the answer, and we had the connections installed and diversions in place within four days. The entire journey with RingCentral from order to installation was easy and painless,” said Olds.
An added advantage, the new RingCentral platform was integrated with ServiceNow, enhancing the management of support ticketing for the work from home team.

In-house control

After the initial deployment for the support team, Blooms The Chemist rolled out RingCentral to all support office users, with Olds citing RingCentral’s flexibility and self-management features as the key benefits.
“We are in control of our own situation because we can configure the solution in-house. If we need to set up different hunt groups, we can do that. If there is a major incident and we need a 1800 support line or we need to record a special on hold message for our customers, we can do that ourselves,” said Olds.
With the organisation connected its stores up to Macquarie Telecom’s SD-WAN service plus the national shut-down of ISDN and PSTN services, there was a perfect opportunity for Blooms The Chemist to offer its members RingEX – a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution, operating over the SD-WAN.

Solution standing on its own merits

Pharmacies are under no obligation to choose RingCentral, and the solution had to stand on its own merits. That included price, functionality, quality and reliability.
From a price perspective, even with potential cancellation fees in exiting their telephony contracts prematurely, for most stores it was still more cost-effective just to pay these out and switch to RingCentral. Individual stores also no longer had to manage a separate service with a telco provider, with the RingCentral service a new line item on their monthly service fees from Blooms The Chemist.
Jack Mars from Blooms The Chemist in Glenelg and Castle Plaza says that these pharmacies are saving approximately 80% on their phone bills since switching to RingCentral and they now have access to features that they never had before with the previous telephony provider.
The key RingCentral feature that stands out is the ability for stores to log in to their own portal to manage their extensions, their IVR and call queues. “We had support for the initial deployment but since then we’ve been able to manage and update the system ourselves. It’s very straightforward and self-explanatory,” said Mars. That included updating the IVR settings and greetings during peak COVID times with information about vaccine and test kit availability and options to book vaccination appointments. They have also set up automated after-hours rules aligned to store closing times, call
diversions if necessary, and an automated redirect for calls from a local nursing home associated with the Glenelg store, so that nursing home staff are connected directly with the dispensary.
At Blooms The Chemist Glenelg and Castle Plaza, the stores no longer manage paper copies and now receive all faxes electronically into each store’s email account, where they can be renamed and filed, easy to locate when prescriptions need to be filled.
End-to-end encryption and dedicated bandwidth on the SD-WAN to ensure quality of service for voice traffic has given stores confidence in switching to RingCentral’s cloud-based services, with redundancy built into the network platform to ensure faster and more reliable connectivity for voice services. Individual stores receive cost-efficiencies and access to enterprise support – initially through Blooms The Chemist’s own service desk and escalated to a service provided by RingCentral partner TelcoDataCloud.
“The RingCentral model works so well because even though each store is effectively a small business making its own decisions, we can offer them an enterprise-grade experience. From an order being placed, we can have RingCentral deployed remotely and be operational within three to four days, with no disruption of service to that store,” said Olds.

Agile deployment model

RingCentral works with deployment partner TelcoDataCloud using an agile deployment model that is customisable to each store, with stores having the benefit of being connected to the core Blooms The Chemist RingCentral platform. The result is that stores no longer have to negotiate and manage their own telecommunications contracts and connections, plus the advantage of robust enterprise support that would typically be beyond the reach of a single retail pharmacy.
To date, approximately 80 Blooms The Chemist stores have chosen to use RingCentral, with new stores being brought online every week.