A Dublin pharmacy is using robots to create an in-store digital experience

8 Jul 2022

The CarePlus Pharmacy in Drumcondra. Image: CarePlus Pharmacy

In an effort to appeal to younger people and give staff more time for patient-centric tasks, the CarePlus Pharmacy in Drumcondra is letting customers use screens to select their products.

Dublin has a new digital pharmacy that is trying to combine traditional services with the feeling of an online store.

Located in Drumcondra, it is CarePlus Pharmacy’s first digital project in Dublin and the fifth of its kind around the country.

The goal is to use new technology to handle more tasks, freeing up staff to do what machines can’t – such as interacting with customers who need help or advice.

The store uses a Gollmann robot that is able to store 20,000 individual items for the pharmacy. It can then give access to the products through screen clicks and a dispensary system.

The Drumcondra pharmacy is part of a CarePlus franchise owned by John Keane, who has seven pharmacies nationwide. Keane told SiliconRepublic.com that some of his other locations utilise robots to assist their work, but these are usually only behind the scenes.

“The difference about Drumcondra is that the one robot now serves the front of shop and the dispensary, so it’s a completely different user experience, in that you have the option to navigate what you want via a digital screen,” Keane said.

‘I knew that we had to innovate from a customer and a patient perspective, and also from a business perspective’

There are a mix of self-select and staff-assisted touch screens around the store, which let customers select over-the-counter (OTC) and wellbeing products.

Keane said this allows customers to read more information about the OTC products they plan to buy and see different brands of similar products.

The hope is that the digital pharmacy will help create loyalty among younger demographics. Keane said there is evidence that younger groups engage less with pharmacies due to different medical needs, but also because they’re more comfortable with a digital environment.

Despite the changes to make the store have a more digital feel, Keane said it is important that it still operates as a traditional pharmacy.

“A big thing for me as the owner going in, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. The last thing I want to do is intimidate anyone that’s not comfortable with the digital. So when you walk in, it has the look and feel of a traditional pharmacy.”

Keane said he has been impressed by the feedback from both staff and customers, and believes he will implement this system in his other pharmacies in the future. He added that the use of automation frees up the staff to focus on more patient-centric tasks.

“There’s different pressures in our industry as there is in every industry at the moment, and I knew that we had to innovate from a customer and a patient perspective and also from a business perspective,” Keane said.

“This is how you innovate. Everything is moving digital so I do see this as our future.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic