Why would a pharmaceutical operator need a virtual tour of its activities? Tamro’s events producer Saana Lehmussaari shares the vision for and insights from the creation of a virtual tour of its Tampere site.
What does Tamro do and what is your role in the organisation?
Tamro is Finland’s largest pharmaceutical warehousing and logistic service provider, supplying medicine and other health products to pharmacies, hospitals and general stores. I work as Tamro’s event producer and in the marketing and communications team, and led the virtual tour project on Tamro’s side.
Why did Tamro want to create a virtual tour of its logistics centre?
“We wanted to help our clients and stakeholders get an overview of our activities and a better understanding of the scale of our operations.”
An interactive virtual tour seemed like a great way to help clients get an overview of our logistical activities and expand their knowledge beyond their own point in the value chain. In our highly specialised society, many of us don’t really know how various systems work or what other people do for a living. We are mostly aware of the activities and processes we see and encounter on a daily basis but that leaves out so much other work that’s invisible – to the degree it’s easy to not realise it exists! We go to the supermarket and take it for granted that the shelves are full of goods – but don’t really understand why the staff there need to start working at 6am when the shop opens at 9, and so on.
To take an example from the pharmaceuticals business, people working at a pharmacy may only know Tamro for the green box in which the products are delivered – but have no idea of the processes that led to the box being there, or the sheer scale and volume of our activities. We deliver to roughly 800 pharmacies across the country, and it’s a complicated puzzle to ensure that this one jar of vitamins gets to the correct place, at the right time. Although we have a great track record in warehouse order picking and a lot of our work is machine-based, sometimes there are human errors. A virtual tour is a great way to demonstrate the volume and scale of our activities in an engaging and visually appealing way.
What was the business case for investing in a virtual tour?
We’d been discussing the idea of a virtual tour for quite some time, but it was the pandemic that finally accelerated the process. The need for this kind of a remote tour solution had been identified much earlier, but the travel and meetings restrictions of Covid (that were particularly strict for the pharma sector) made it clear we had to take steps forward and invest in a new way to present our activities to stakeholders.
“The goal is not to end physical visits but to encourage clients with a sneak peek that is available remotely.”
Of course, we still encourage clients to visit our physical site in Tampere, but the reality is that the majority of our pharma clients are based in the Helsinki metropolitan area and many of our other customers are scattered across Finland and in other countries – so not everyone is able to make the trip. The virtual tour solves the problem of geographical distance, allowing us to engage with a larger number of people – but it also inspires clients to learn more and visit the physical site.
Who is the virtual tour for?
We have three core client segments: pharmacies, healthcare companies and hospitals, and we wanted the tour to be relevant to each of these stakeholder groups. We also wanted the tour to be usable in different ways and situations. In addition to giving our clients a better idea of our processes and activities, pharmacy students have been using it to better understand the logistics side of pharma distribution. We are also planning to use the tour as part of our onboarding internally and as part of our trade show activities with VR glasses. In addition to our Finnish clients, the tour is also available in English language version for our international customers.
How does the virtual tour work?
We send a private link to the web-based tour to our clients for them to explore it at their own pace. The virtual tour is accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers, and is very easy to navigate by clicking around.
The individual user can choose which business and process areas to explore in more depth, or go through the entire tour, making the solution very flexible and practical. The tour also includes a game in which the visitors can try picking products themselves.
Why did you choose a virtual tour over other media like video?
“The virtual tour makes invisible work visible in an engaging and easy-to-use way.”
The virtual tour allows our clients to experience the logistics centre in an engaging and spatially realistic way, giving them a better overall understanding of what we do and how we do it. The 360-degree views and interactive elements of the tour engage more than traditional video, empowering the clients to explore the spaces at their own pace.
We have various stakeholder and client groups with very different interests and needs. Because of the interactive nature of the virtual tour, each client can engage with the virtual tour based on their individual needs and preferences. This is very efficient, because the client can focus on the information that is relevant, and doesn’t have to sit through a long video which contains information they don’t need.
How did you decide on the content of the virtual tour?
It takes some work to demonstrate complex processes in an interesting and effective way, so the design stage is very important. We had representatives from our three core client groups in the design team to ensure the tour would meet the various needs of these stakeholders, and we also had two heads of logistics from the Tampere site in the design team. With this group we chose the key messages we wanted to convey in the virtual tour. The goal was to make the content comprehensive yet succinct – focusing on the essential aspects of our activities.
Because some of the substances we handle are tightly regulated, there were some limitations on what we could share in this kind of a public tour; and like any business, there are some trade secrets which are not public knowledge for competition reasons. But we feel we found a good balance by focusing on activities which are not bound by any information restrictions.
How was the design and production process managed?
As the production partner of the virtual tour, Stereoscape made the design process very easy for us. We showed up to the design meetings as experts in our field, while Stereoscape ran the workshops and performed all the production on the virtual tour.
Stereoscape’s working methodology was very effective: after the initial design sprint we had regular content design meetings where we together specified the detailed goals of the project and how to get there concretely. We went room by room, deciding which spaces would be photographed for the tour and which activities would be included. As our activities evolve and processes change, we can add new spaces to the tour and update it when needed.
From the offer stage to delivery, we felt Stereoscape was a genuine partner in the project, listening to our needs and delivering what was agreed upon. Even though there were some schedule delays on our side, Stereoscape was very patient and flexible, and the whole project very cost efficient.
How are you tracking and measuring the success of the virtual tour?
We receive a monthly user report which tracks things like numbers of new and total visitors, their geographical location, and how long visitors typically spend on their virtual visit. For us, the quality of engagement is important: it’s not just numbers of visitors that count, but the length and frequency of their engagement.
How has the virtual tour been received?
Since the launch of the virtual tour in late 2022, the feedback from both clients and internal stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive, and we really feel that the investment is paying itself back.
In Tamro’s internal assessment the tour got a rating of 4.6 out of 5 in terms of its usefulness as a sales support tool. The clients have also been genuinely excited about the tour, feeling it answers their everyday questions about our activities, and is easy to use.
“Now that the virtual tour is in use, even those who didn’t initially see the business case for it are wondering why we didn’t always have one.”
Have you reached the goals you set for the virtual tour?
Yes. At the design stage it was crucial that we set clear goals for the virtual visit: to show the breadth of our activities. When money and time are invested in creating a new tool like this, it’s so important to also roll it out effectively internally, so upon the launch of the virtual tour, we also set business area specific goals for how to use the tour. We introduce the tour in client meetings and follow up with a link to the tour, so existing clients can deepen their knowledge. For hunting-stage companies, we use the virtual visit to introduce our activities.
“The success of the tour has been underpinned by launching the tour internally – creating awareness and business area specific goals for its use.”
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