Lloyds Pharmacy’s mobility operation, Betterlife Healthcare, is on the march to increase its stake in the retail and ecommerce arenas and with the backing of the Lloyds group the company is one of the best-placed mobility retailers in the market today.
AMP spoke to third party wholesale manager Brett Dawson about the challenges of running a huge omnichannel operation and why the dealer is hungry to acquire more online and physical retail space in addition to driving wholesale channel growth…
There are few mobility dealers in the UK market who boast the level of corporate backing and muscle that Betterlife Healthcare enjoys. As Lloyds Pharmacy’s official mobility retail arm and with its own expanding product portfolio, Betterlife has a readily accessible consumer base that would turn most other dealerships green. But it is no easy task running such a large-scale operation and in spite of its size, Betterlife is not immune to rocky shores and still has to carefully navigate the market.
At the helm of its wholesale arm is Brett Dawson, third party wholesale manager, whose role is to grow both its third party customer base and supplier network. Working alongside over 2,000 pharmacies and 600 other businesses, Dawson helps to run a complicated operation where the wholesale and retail branches work seamlessly alongside one another.
While running two separate sectors isn’t without challenges, Betterlife has the luxury of being able to learn from each segment of its business and uses this to improve itself. And while some firms would be wary of potential conflicts arising between wholesale and retail arms, Dawson maintains this is not the case and that both sections comfortably co-exist.
With regards to its long-term wholesale plan, Betterlife has both eyes on expansion. “We want to continue to grow the number of pharmacies and businesses we work with, naturally. It’s also important for us to continue to innovate and broaden our range of products, ensuring we always provide affordable and independent living solutions to all our customers,” explains Dawson.
“We definitely see ourselves as one of the stronger and bigger players in the independent living market. What differentiates us from competitors like eBay and Amazon is the expert advice and additional services we can offer”
He adds that the firm’s wholesale operation benefits hugely from being part of the Lloyds group. “The benefits are the scope and power we have in procurement, contacts, buying products and the due diligence and QC checks that we have behind it too. So we have a secure foundation there. We’re a big part of a massive corporate business.”
Being part of that ‘massive corporate business’ owes to both B2C and B2B channels. Over the last seven years, the business has achieved strong B2C success and is now striving to replicate this in B2B avenues. “They’re familiar in quite a lot of synergies. Our retail business is known for great customer service and our product range. And we want to ensure that our B2B business provides the same amazing service. This in turn will give us a wider reach and a better understanding of what value means to our customer base,” comments Dawson.
He states that there are not necessarily any complications when balancing B2C and B2B sales, even with selling to companies that are effectively also competitors.
From a retail perspective, Betterlife has constructed a large-scale omnichannel approach where it trades through seven retail outlets and a large ecommerce operation. Dawson reckons this approach is part-responsible for the huge customer reach the dealership boasts. He says: “The omnichannel approach can be a challenge but we’re also looking at growing our Betterlife bricks and mortar stores so we’ve got feet through the door too. The omnichannel side is massive. We have to have that online presence. And we have our retail estate within Lloyds Pharmacy complementing the standalone stores and our mail order catalogue too, which reaches far and wide.”
Dawson outlines that in today’s market it is essential for mobility retailers to have an offering which can meet a variety of different customers’ needs and facilities to access that offering. “We know that the consumer buying behaviour is not constrained to an in-store purchase and so we need to ensure that our business operates in that way and support the changing buying behaviours of our customers. We feel we are the best equipped in the market to manage customer expectations and we give the best possible service and experience when shopping with us.”
With its two-pronged approach, spanning both the wholesale and retail sectors, Betterlife has evidently come up with a business model that works well at both ends of the mobility market. What’s more, with the backing of Lloyds Pharmacy, owned by healthcare giant Celesio, it has the massive customer access and financial brawn to expand itself even further in multiple arenas.
Already a key online and physical dealership, Dawson indicates Betterlife’s ambition is to open more shops when the time and location allows. Online superiority is also a prime target for the business as it goes head-to-head with other digital retailers. And on top of all of this, it is understood that the company has plans in the pipeline for more digital healthcare products.
As Betterlife Healthcare gathers steam in all areas that it operates, this is one mobility force that will be hard for the market to ignore.