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Apotek1

Norway’s largest pharmacy chain selects Algolia to improve customer experience through search.

(Algolia) just works! It fully provides a fast and easy-to-use search solution that provides a great overall customer experience with little maintenance.

Martin Rogne

Software Solutions Architect @ Solteq (Apotek 1’s IT provider)

Summary

When Apotek 1, the largest pharmacy chain in Norway, saw an opportunity to simplify search, save time and improve customer experience it moved from a customized open source search solution to Algolia. The result has been a blazingly fast, easy to implement and maintain, and always available search solution that is improving Apotek 1’s ability to help its customers find the health and wellness products and information they need. Find out how Algolia is helping this pharmacy chain increase online conversions with a search solution that works around the clock.

Apotek
Use case

Ecommerce

Headquarters

Lørenskog, Norway

Customer since

2022

Feature usage

Algolia Search API, Dynamic Synonyms, Recommend, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Insights API, Rules, Visual Editor, Query Suggestions, A/B Testing, Manual Synonyms, Facets & Filters, Merchandising Studio

Key results
  • Fast implementation (~ 2-3 months)

  • Consistent performance and low maintenance

  • Simple and easy to use

Key numbers
  • Search CR increase: 55.64%

  •  Browse CR increase: 95.29%

  • 53.96% reduction in > 300ms searches

The challenges

  • 1.

    Search required maintenance and custom configuration

  • 2.

    Improve customer search experience

  • 3.

    Incremental and continuous website improvement

The solution

  • 1.

    Algolia Search for simple, easy-to-use capabilities

  • 2.

    Fast implementation (~ 2-3 months)

  • 3.

    Broad feature use: Dynamic Synonyms, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Query Suggestions and more

The result

  • 1.

    Low maintenance to save admin time

  • 2.

    Fast search speed with relevant results

  • 3.

    Improved conversion rates from search

Founded in 1999 in Lørenskog, Norway, Apotek 1 has experienced remarkable growth over the past two decades. In part due to a massive expansion in the early 2000s, Apotek 1 — Apotek is the word for Pharmacy in Nordic languages — is now Norway’s largest pharmacy chain with a national market share of about 40 percent and more than 3,000 dedicated employees. 

It boasts more than 450 pharmacies across Norway and two wholesale warehouses, out of which it sells prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and a wide selection of health and wellness products at competitive prices — backed up by experienced, qualified guidance. 

The last dozen years have also been a whirlwind of digital activity for Apotek 1.

The company originally had a purely content-oriented website but decided to make the move to e-commerce in the early 2010s. It brought in IT partner Solteq, a Nordic IT service provider and software house, to launch its B2C e-commerce capabilities on www.apotek1.no. After a 2016 Norwegian regulation change allowing online purchase of prescription medications, the company created a platform for customers to fill e-prescriptions. 

Since coming on board, the Solteq-Apotek 1 team has guided the company through several website updates, and the launch of their B2B site, from which they sell pharmaceuticals to municipalities in Norway. In addition, the IT partner has developed an app to aid customers in tracking their medications.

Better helping customers

The pharmacy company takes pride in its ability to help its customers in-store find what they are looking for, so it’s no surprise that its IT partner recommended taking on a more guided approach to search online. 

Apotek 1 was using a self-maintained search solution that had a lot of maintenance issues and required a great deal of customization. They needed an easier solution that would free up time and work better for the company overall. 

Solteq project manager Kristoffer Fuchs and software solutions architect Martin Rogne recommended Algolia, which members of the product team at Apotek 1 were already familiar with. The company took the advice and implemented Algolia in the fall of 2022 on its B2C website for all non-prescription products. (The nature of prescriptions makes search less relevant to the customer experience.)

After a short “soft switch,” in which the company maintained its existing front end, Apotek 1 saw immediate performance improvements with average search speeds dropping dramatically, but perhaps most importantly it succeeded in reducing maintenance and configuration time. 

“It just works!” Rogne says. “It fully provides a fast and easy-to-use search solution that provides a great overall customer experience with little maintenance.” Most of the time spent using Algolia is on the improvements that Solteq and Apotek 1 continually perform on the site. 

“Most of the day-to-day work with Algolia is around providing small ongoing enhancements and optimization to search. It’s things like avoiding unnecessary queries, but also things like adding new fields or campaign indicators that they might want to facet on,” says Martin Rogne, software solutions architect at Solteq.

He suggests that when dealing with Algolia, no news is good news. The company doesn’t have tasks related to outages or slowdowns, only administering incremental improvements. 

As one of those improvements, the Solteq team at Apotek 1 is currently in the process of implementing Algolia Recommend. 

Currently, the company is using Algolia Personalization, Dynamic Re-ranking, Query Suggestions, Synonyms, and InstantSearch features to search through the approximately 30,000 products and nearly 1,000 content pieces (such as articles) on the B2C website.

apotek

Having a worry-free solution has been a big plus for Solteq and Apotek 1. The IT partner has received positive feedback from the company thanks to the excellent results they’ve seen from search since the implementation. 

Algolia has provided value to both marketing and technical teams. Anders Stensønes, product owner for the website, has been most impressed with how quickly Algolia returns results to customers, in addition to the event-based re-raking that continuously helps improve customers experience on the site. 

"From having to manually update rankings on a per-search basis, we now have the opportunity for more flexible ranking of results, and dynamic improvements of the search results based on how our customers interact with the results and category navigation. This is a major improvement around reducing workload for us, and a huge improvement of the quality of each returned search,” Stensønes says.

“Speed is one of the big beneficial areas of Algolia to them,” Fuchs says. “Using our analytics solution, it has shown significant gains in speed when doing searches using Algolia.” 

In the first quarter of 2023, the company has seen strong improvements in its key performance metrics (KPMs), especially conversion rates (CR): 

  • Search CR increase: 55.64% 
  • Browse CR increase: 95.29% 
  • 53.96% reduction in searches 300 ms or longer

Although reiterating that “it just works,” the Solteq team has been pleased with the support from Algolia. The Algolia customer success team has been there when needed, conducts regular meetings to ensure needs are being met and it has been “smooth sailing,” Fuchs says. 

Algolia’s simplicity and consistency continue to be key benefits for the Solteq team since they make maintaining the Apotek 1 search engine easy. Rogne adds, “It’s consistently fast, and it’s always up and available, so we don’t have downtimes or breakage during upgrades.”

apotek

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