By Mia A. Aznar
Sunday, May 27, 2012
IN just two years, drugstore chain Three Sixty Pharmacy has managed to open 60 branches in Cebu and neighboring provinces.
As they plan to end the year with 80 branches, company officials are optimistic they can expand well with the help of technology.
Three Sixty and IBM Philippines announced yesterday a partnership to reduce the chain’s administrative and support costs.
Three Sixty selected IBM’s Storwize V700 unified disk system for “a robust and scalable storage environment” and the IBM Tivoli storage flash copy manager to streamline its operations to support its expansion plan.
Three Sixty business operations manager Glordelyne Ramos and IBM Philippines geographic expansion territory manager Ana Joy Bellosillo said they are finalizing the partnership to include business intelligence software.
Ramos said that the solutions IBM provided help them do more things in less time.
When the chain started out, they already used IBM point of sale (POS) systems.
IBM country manager for general business Chestnut Andaya said that by using IBM POS systems in the front-end of the business, they can easily access data on what items have been sold and what products need to be replenished.
“That way they can replenish stocks quickly and anticipate what runs out of stock faster,” she explained. Andaya added that having stocks ready is a good way to serve customers better.
Ramos said having access to data helps them be responsive to customers and that they can get significant insights in running their chain.
Ramos explained that despite having many branches, each location “has its own idiosyncrasies.”
She said that with business intelligence, they can tailor-fit each store to meet the needs of the community they are in, making them more efficient and customer-oriented.
Ramos also clarified that they named Three Sixty Pharmacy after 360 degrees, not because they wanted to open that many branches, but because they wanted to change how retail pharmacies are run and come full circle in the industry.
Business development manager Carlo Yap said that of the 20 additional branches they are planning to open this year, 10 of these will be outside Cebu. Currently, they have two branches each in Tacloban and Bohol. They want to open another one in Bohol, three more in Tacloban, two in Dumaguete City, one in Bacolod, two in Iloilo and one in Tagum, Davao.
Ramos said they want to be able to open branches in communities that do not have access to quality drugs, saying their branches in the towns such as Moalboal and Carcar are very patronizing. They also planning to open a branch in Dumanjug and are considering opening in Bogo.
Asked if they see it is a goal for them to have one branch in each municipality, Yap said that any place with a strategic location is an ideal spot for them.
For now, all existing and future branches are company-owned.
Ramos said that while they are not closing their doors to franchising in the future, they want to be able to maintain how the branches are run.
Part of their optimism about their expansion activities in Cebu has been fueled by other retailers opening in the province. They noted the quick opening of SM and Savemore branches. There are also reported plans of convenience store chain 7 Eleven to open a branch here. “We are happy for the local economy of Cebu.”
Andaya agrees with the company’s expansion moves, saying they should take advantage of the fast growth Cebu is experiencing.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2012.