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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Operational Excellence Strategy for SMB in Pharma Retail


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Consider this scenario: A mid-size pharmacy retail chain is navigating complexities in enhancing Customer Journey amidst increasing market competition and evolving consumer expectations.

The organization is experiencing a 20% decline in customer retention rates and a 15% drop in same-store sales, highlighting significant challenges in meeting customer needs effectively and efficiently. Externally, the rise of e-commerce and digital health platforms has intensified competition, while internally, outdated operational processes and underutilized digital tools are impeding service speed and quality. The primary strategic objective is to redefine the Customer Journey, leveraging Operational Excellence to improve service delivery, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, financial performance.



Understanding the root causes of the observed decline in customer satisfaction and market position is crucial. The organization's lag in digital transformation, compared to its more agile competitors, suggests a critical area of focus. Additionally, inefficiencies in inventory management and customer service processes are likely contributing to the erosion of customer loyalty and sales.

Industry Analysis

The pharmacy retail industry is at a critical juncture, with technological advancements and changing consumer behaviors reshaping the landscape. Online pharmacies and digital health services are gaining traction, challenging traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

We begin our analysis by examining the competitive forces within the industry:

  • Internal Rivalry: High, driven by both traditional pharmacies and emerging online platforms competing for market share.
  • Supplier Power: Moderate, with a relatively large number of drug manufacturers but some key players dominating certain drug categories.
  • Buyer Power: High, as consumers have more choices and are increasingly price sensitive and demanding in terms of service.
  • Threat of New Entrants: Moderate to high, due to low entry barriers for online pharmacies but higher for physical stores due to regulatory and capital requirements.
  • Threat of Substitutes: High, with alternative medicine and online consultation platforms offering different health care solutions.

Emerging trends include the adoption of telehealth services, increased consumer preference for online shopping, and a focus on personalized health and wellness products. These shifts are leading to major changes in industry dynamics, such as:

  • Increased competition from digital platforms, offering new opportunities for customer engagement but also posing risks to traditional revenue streams.
  • Greater emphasis on supply chain efficiency and digital inventory management to meet consumer demand for fast and reliable service.
  • The importance of data analytics in understanding customer preferences and behaviors, presenting opportunities for targeted marketing and improved customer service but requiring significant investment in technology and skills.

Learn more about Customer Service Inventory Management Supply Chain Industry Analysis

For a deeper analysis, take a look at these Industry Analysis best practices:

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Industry Analysis (63-slide PowerPoint deck)
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Internal Assessment

The organization has a well-established presence in its local market, with strong relationships with suppliers and a loyal customer base, but faces challenges in digital adoption and operational efficiency.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths include a broad product range and a strong community presence. Opportunities lie in digital transformation and service diversification to meet evolving consumer expectations. Weaknesses are evident in outdated operational processes and slow adoption of technology, while threats come from increasing competition and changing consumer behaviors.

VRIO Analysis

The company's community presence and customer trust are valuable and rare, offering a competitive advantage. However, operational efficiency and technological capabilities are not currently organized to capture the full value, indicating areas for strategic improvement.

Capability Analysis

Success in the evolving pharmacy retail market requires core competencies in digital transformation, supply chain management, and customer experience. The company has foundational strengths but needs to enhance its capabilities in these areas to maintain competitiveness and capitalize on new opportunities.

Learn more about Digital Transformation Customer Experience Supply Chain Management

Strategic Initiatives

Based on the insights from the industry analysis and internal assessment, the management team has defined strategic initiatives to be pursued over the next 18 months .

  • Digital Transformation: Implement an integrated digital platform to streamline operations, enhance the customer experience, and provide data analytics capabilities. This initiative aims to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and decision-making capabilities. It will require investment in technology infrastructure and training.
  • Supply Chain Optimization: Redesign the supply chain process to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This involves adopting digital tools for inventory management and establishing strategic partnerships with suppliers. The expected value includes reduced stockouts, improved profitability, and enhanced customer satisfaction. Resource needs include technology solutions and supply chain expertise.
  • Customer Experience Enhancement: Develop and implement a comprehensive customer experience program, focusing on personalized services and digital engagement strategies. This initiative seeks to increase customer loyalty and attract new customers. Key resources required are marketing and technology expertise, along with customer feedback mechanisms.

Learn more about Customer Loyalty Customer Satisfaction Industry Analysis

Customer Journey Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


What gets measured gets managed.
     – Peter Drucker

  • Customer Satisfaction Score: Measures the impact of customer experience initiatives.
  • Inventory Turnover Ratio: Indicates the effectiveness of supply chain optimization.
  • Digital Engagement Metrics: Tracks the adoption and usage of new digital platforms by customers.

These KPIs will provide insights into the effectiveness of the strategic initiatives, enabling timely adjustments and highlighting areas for continuous improvement.

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Learn more about Flevy KPI Library KPI Management Performance Management Balanced Scorecard

Customer Journey Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Customer Journey. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Customer Journey subject matter experts.

Customer Journey Deliverables

These deliverables represent the outputs across all the strategic initiatives.
  • Digital Transformation Roadmap (PPT)
  • Supply Chain Optimization Plan (PPT)
  • Customer Experience Strategy Document (PPT)
  • Implementation Progress Report Template (Excel)

Explore more Customer Journey deliverables

Digital Transformation

The team utilized the Balanced Scorecard and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to guide the Digital Transformation initiative. The Balanced Scorecard, a strategic planning and management system, was instrumental in aligning business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improving internal and external communications, and monitoring performance against strategic goals. It was particularly useful in ensuring that the digital transformation efforts were balanced across key perspectives: financial, customer, internal business processes, and learning and growth. The process involved:

  • Developing specific objectives and measures for each of the four perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard that relate directly to the digital transformation goals.
  • Integrating these objectives into the daily activities of employees at all levels, ensuring that the digital transformation was a central focus of the organization.

TAM, on the other hand, was used to assess the likelihood of successful adoption of new digital tools and platforms by both employees and customers. This framework helped the organization understand the factors influencing users' acceptance of technology, which is critical for a successful digital transformation. The implementation steps included:

  • Conducting surveys and interviews to evaluate the perceived usefulness and ease of use of the new digital tools among employees and customers.
  • Using the findings to make iterative improvements to the digital tools to increase user acceptance and satisfaction.

The combination of the Balanced Scorecard and TAM enabled the organization to successfully navigate its digital transformation. The Balanced Scorecard ensured that the transformation efforts were well-aligned with the strategic objectives, while TAM provided insights into user acceptance, leading to high adoption rates of the new digital tools and platforms.

Learn more about Strategic Planning Balanced Scorecard

Supply Chain Optimization

For the Supply Chain Optimization initiative, the organization applied the SCOR Model and Lean Management principles. The Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, which provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating and improving supply chain performance, was crucial for identifying areas of inefficiency and implementing best practices. The model's focus on five key supply chain processes—Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, and Return—facilitated a structured approach to optimization. The organization followed these steps:

  • Mapping out the current state of the supply chain processes using the SCOR model's framework to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
  • Implementing targeted improvements in the identified areas, such as enhancing supplier collaboration and streamlining logistics processes.

Lean Management principles were employed to eliminate waste and increase efficiency across the supply chain. This approach complemented the SCOR model by focusing on creating more value for customers with fewer resources. The implementation involved:

  • Identifying and eliminating non-value-added activities in the supply chain through continuous improvement initiatives.
  • Training staff in lean principles and techniques, fostering a culture of efficiency and continuous improvement.

The application of the SCOR model and Lean Management principles significantly improved the organization's supply chain efficiency. By identifying and addressing inefficiencies, the organization was able to reduce costs, improve delivery times, and increase overall customer satisfaction.

Learn more about Lean Management Continuous Improvement SCOR Model

Customer Experience Enhancement

To enhance the Customer Experience, the organization leveraged the Customer Journey Mapping and the Service Blueprint frameworks. Customer Journey Mapping allowed the team to visualize the end-to-end experience of customers, identifying key touchpoints and moments of truth that significantly impact customer satisfaction. This framework was critical for understanding the customer's perspective and identifying areas for improvement. The process included:

  • Mapping out the entire customer journey, from awareness to loyalty, across all touchpoints and channels.
  • Identifying pain points and opportunities to enhance the customer experience at each stage of the journey.

The Service Blueprint was used to design and innovate the service delivery processes, ensuring that every aspect of the customer experience was accounted for and optimized. This framework complemented Customer Journey Mapping by providing a detailed view of the service processes, including the visible customer actions and the backstage processes and interactions. Implementation steps were:

  • Creating a Service Blueprint that detailed the customer interactions and the internal actions required to support those interactions.
  • Using the blueprint to identify inefficiencies and areas where customer experience could be improved, then implementing the necessary changes.

The successful implementation of Customer Journey Mapping and the Service Blueprint frameworks led to a profound enhancement of the customer experience. By thoroughly understanding and redesigning the customer journey and service delivery processes, the organization was able to significantly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, driving increased retention and sales.

Learn more about Customer Journey Customer Journey Mapping

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Implemented an integrated digital platform, leading to a 25% increase in operational efficiency and a 15% improvement in customer satisfaction scores.
  • Supply chain optimization reduced stockouts by 30% and decreased delivery times by 20%, enhancing customer satisfaction and profitability.
  • Customer loyalty improved, with a 10% increase in customer retention rates and a 12% rise in same-store sales within the first year.
  • Digital engagement metrics showed a 40% increase in online interactions, indicating successful adoption of the new digital tools by customers.
  • Employee training on digital tools and lean management principles led to a more agile and responsive workforce, though specific quantification of this result is pending further analysis.

The strategic initiatives undertaken by the organization have yielded significant improvements in operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. The successful implementation of an integrated digital platform and the optimization of the supply chain have directly addressed the root causes of the initial decline in customer retention and sales. The increase in customer loyalty and same-store sales is particularly notable, as it signifies a positive shift in consumer perception and engagement. However, while the digital engagement metrics indicate successful adoption of new tools, the lack of specific quantification regarding the impact of employee training on overall results suggests an area for further investigation. Additionally, the high initial investment in technology infrastructure and training presents a challenge in terms of short-term financial strain, which may not be sustainable for all organizations.

Given the results, the organization should focus on continuous improvement of the digital platform to keep pace with technological advancements and evolving consumer expectations. Further investment in data analytics capabilities is recommended to enhance understanding of customer behaviors and preferences, enabling more targeted marketing and personalized service offerings. Additionally, exploring partnerships with fintech companies could offer innovative solutions for improving the payment experience, further enhancing customer satisfaction. Finally, a more detailed analysis of the impact of employee training on operational efficiency and customer service quality is necessary to identify areas for further development and improvement.

Source: Operational Excellence Strategy for SMB in Pharma Retail, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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