Commercial Director Pharmacy, Health and New Businesses of Walmart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama and Sam’s Club
View from the Top

Omnichanel Strategy Increases Access to Healthcare

Wed, 07/24/2019 - 12:52

Q: How does Walmex help increase access to healthcare?
A: Our goal is to improve the quality of life of Mexican and Central American families. Walmex is operating in over 648 cities in six countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Our infrastructure covers the needs of 85 percent of the population of the regions where we operate and we made sure to be only 10 minutes away from our clients’ homes. Walmex receives over 5 million clients per day, which provides a great opportunity to increase access to health. Our strategy for the healthcare sector follows five pillars: growth, omnichannel, productivity, agility and people & culture.
Our goal is that patients can access the medications they need using the channel and payment method of their choice. We are constantly innovating to open new sales channels for our clients and to develop end-to-end strategies that ensure that the product is available as fast as possible. All our decisions are focused on the patient. For us, speaking about health means speaking about well-being, so we treat these topics together. We want our patients to perceive us as experts in our field so they can trust us.
Q: What is Walmart’s approach to healthcare provision?
A: We approach access to health from different perspectives. The first is physical access, which we handle through our over 2,400 points of sale in Mexico where we distribute OTC analgesics, anti-flu agents and vitamins, among many others. Of those stores, 1,370 also sell prescription medication and 340 have a doctor’s office. The second perspective is economic. We all know that medicines are expensive due to the high costs to research and develop new products. However, we try to negotiate better prices with laboratories to be able to offer our clients the best available price. We also decided to develop our own brand of generic medications, which are just as effective as patented medicines but represent savings of 20 to 80 percent. Walmart offers more than medications; we offer everything related to health, from nutritious foodstuffs to exercise tools, which are often key to addressing obesity-related diseases that are increasingly common among the Mexican population.  
Q: How does Walmart guarantee the quality of the medications it provides?
A: Our brand Medimart has become a reference point in the pharmaceutical industry. It covers a wide variety of products, from OTCs to specialized medications for many diseases. This brand follows strict quality guidelines from production to the moment medications are sold. We ensure that the labs that manufacture our brands adhere to all existing COFEPRIS regulations.
Q: How does Walmex differentiate form other points of sale in the competitive generics market?
A: Our differentiation is in our value proposition: making health available to everyone. There is a Walmart 10 minutes away from 85 percent of the population because our goal is to be close to anyone who needs our products. Healthcare should not be linked to income. For that reason, we want to offer a diverse portfolio of products that range in price so everyone can afford them.
Q: How is Walmex introducing new technological trends such as Big Data to improve its operations?
A: A trend we are seeing in the market is data mining as the more information we have about patients, the better service we can provide them. We are extremely careful in our operations to ensure our client’s privacy is protected. New technologies are increasing connectivity among systems and among people. Smart watches can communicate with smartphones, which in turn can convey information to doctors on the patient’s health. Doctors can analyze this information to make immediate decisions and recommendations to their patients. Technology is opening the door to many opportunities. We are seeing that pharmacies are increasingly developing an omnichannel strategy for sales to allow clients to buy their medicines in any way they prefer, either through apps, online or at stores.