As a top animal hospital system, VCA has more than 1,000 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada with plans to expand to Japan. It has more 6,000 veterinarians and over 600 board certified specialists.

Recently, VCA’s website hit a new benchmark of attracting 2.2 million monthly visitors. In terms of traffic, this was a success. But at the time, every user was getting the exact same online experience. At Sitecore Symposium 2019, VCA shared how the organization used Sitecore Experience Commerce to personalize its digital experience to drive return visits and improve patient care. Martha Smith, VCA director of national marketing, Michail Takach, VCA director of digital, and Sergey Chmelev, Rightpoint solutions architect, shared their journey on stage.

VCA’s opportunity to improve its commerce experience

As a Sitecore client since 2015, VCA started its journey by building a robust architecture with Sitecore Experience Commerce 8.2. Last year, they built on this foundation by upgrading to 9.0.2. The VCA has a national website, and every one of its hospitals has its own site, as well, Michail Takach shared. To facilitate multiple sites and consistent branding and communication across them, they set up a main domain with subdomains. With 2,200 “know your pet” articles, which is comparable to being the Web MD of the pet world, the VCA website is driven by organic search.

“Until recently, all of our visitors were entirely anonymous,” Takach said.

He added: “Although our website was truly acquisition-based, we weren’t set up in a way that allowed us to build out relationships once the acquisition had happened,” Takach said. “There was no tracking of retention, no tracking of compliance; those 2.2 million visitors had an identical experience regardless of their depth of relationship with the VCA.”

VCA wanted to take its digital experience to scale.

Creating the robust commerce experience for enhancing patient care experience

Martha Smith shared that the pet food and medication market is flooded with companies competing for the nearly $45 billion market, including Amazon launching its own line of dog food and Walmart launching a pet pharmacy in its stores. But, referencing Forrester's keynote touching on how individualization is the next evolution of personalization, “there is nothing more individual than healthcare,” Smith said.

“We’re not as much focused on selling products as we are on providing care,” Martha said.

Adding: “So, our interest in the space, is the fact that the analyses that we’ve been performing on ecommerce and home delivery business shows us that the subscription-driven, online pet products sales have a significant positive impact on patient care.”

Home delivery subscriptions increase patient compliance and patient return rates, Smith shared. An effective omnichannel strategy that drives new enrolments was an organizational imperative for VCA.

“We have to ensure we’re approaching this service in a way that makes it more accessible to clients while ensuring that it’s aligned with uniquely personal and individualized experiences that our clients are having inside our hospitals every single day,” Smith said. “This is where Sitecore Experience Commerce comes in.”

Sitecore enables VCA to give patient care clients want

After extensive research, VCA first identified nine “I wants” that their clients desire in their relationship with VCA and pet care, Smith shared. On the top of the list: Know me and know my pet.

“Our clients want to be recognized for their loyalty, they want to be remembered, and they want a customized relationship with us that is based on how they want to be treated,” Smith shared.

Then, the VCA designed its personalization using all the ingredients they had in place: an established website, and its extensive patient and client data from in-person visits, including concerns and recommendations, and pet healthcare data.

“Using Sitecore Experience Commerce we leveraged all that data to create the MyVCA Online store and client patient portals,” Smith said. “An experience that extends that high-touch, high expertise, uniquely personal in-hospital client experience into the digital sphere.”

VCA’s digital experience went from standardized to personalized with detailed account pages for each patient and recommendations specific to each client directly from their healthcare team.

“It has created a content and commerce environment that feels — not like a separate shopping experience — but like a truly integrated, individualized, digital health experience,” Smith said. “No matter how or where our clients engage with us, they are always getting that high-touch, uniquely personal, initialized experience that our hospitals have trained them to expect from VCA.”

Sergey Chmelev shared that on the backend, Sitecore is at the center of the VCA’s digital experience. What’s unique, Chmelev shared, was the number of integrations. By using Sitecore, they leveraged several integrations to provide their complete digital patient experience, including payment services, segmentation, AWS automation services, and more.

Hansen Lieu is the Product Marketing Director for Commerce at Sitecore. With over 10 years of experience helping organizations gain competitive advantage with digital commerce and CRM technologies, Hansen is responsible for positioning, messaging, thought leadership, and go-to-market strategy. Follow him on Twitter @HansenTweets or on LinkedIn.