Medical supplies are essential. We knew what happened a couple of years back when the entire medical device distribution was disrupted. The sudden demand for test kits, diagnosing devices, surgical instruments, and other medical supplies skyrocketed.
The demand was so high that the industry took long strides to cater to it across borders. eCommerce played a major role in helping manufacturers and medical device supply brands cater to the demand. From thereon, eCommerce and medical supply distribution became inseparable.
Another key reason for the growth of medical supplies eCommerce is to bring innovations to market. To improve accuracy and diagnosing capabilities and benefit both patients and medical practitioners, medical device manufacturers keep innovating.
Traditional offline selling makes it difficult to communicate such advancements. Using digital assets in eCommerce like PDFs, walkthroughs, demo videos, and research reports, it is easier to educate B2B buyers about the innovations and benefits they can add to their treatments.
Alongside the demand, the cost of healthcare devices is constantly on the rise. So, anytime is apt for medical supplies brands to join the eCommerce bandwagon.
However, there could be various challenges and concerns that might make you hesitate from venturing into the medical supplies eCommerce like:
- Traditional sales channels are doing good
- Your sales team fears losing offline sales commissions
- Doubting eCommerce’s ability to facilitate B2B complexities
- Lacking the technology expertise to build an eCommerce store
- Resistance to learning new technologies
.. and the list goes on.
Despite these factors, building an eCommerce store for medical devices and healthcare supplies can add a lot of value in many ways. According to Statista’s prediction (including the market impact of the Russia-Ukraine war), the medical devices market will be at $641 Billion by 2027.
Source – Statista
Another report by Grand View Research states that the U.S.A’s medical supply delivery service market will grow at a CAGR of 9% till 2028. This clearly shows the upward growth trajectory of the segment for the upcoming years.
Source – GVR
In this blog, we will look at the growth of medical supplies eCommerce and the top 8 reasons to choose digital sales channels.
- eCommerce challenges for medical devices distributors and manufacturers
- 8 compelling reasons for medical devices distributors to invest in eCommerce
- How to choose the right platform for your medical supplies eCommerce store
eCommerce challenges for medical devices distributors and manufacturers
A B2B eCommerce store is much more complex than a B2C store. Even a basic B2B store needs features like tiered pricing, purchase order workflows, multiple profiles, roles and access permission for a single organization (buyer), quote management, credit management, and so on.
The complexity of products:
Medical devices cannot be categorized into ‘Simple product’ types. These devices are complex and have multiple interconnected parts, forming a wholesome mechanism. Laying out the entire specifications of a medical device to the finest of detail in an eCommerce store is a challenge. Choosing an eCommerce platform that supports complex product types and attributes can help overcome the challenge.
Compliance standards are a serious thing to focus on while buying medical devices. Buyers are concerned if the manufacturer of a product they are looking for has adhered to the compliance laws of their stream of medical treatment. Medical supplies brands should put information related to compliance in product descriptions.
Compatibility of spares and replacement parts:
Made of many parts, buyers will often have to buy spare parts or replacements for medical devices. So, brands dealing with medical supplies should convey the compatibility of new parts with the original equipment a buyer is looking to fit it into. Adding compatibility-related detailing in product descriptions through a sound PIM system can help overcome this challenge.
Now, let’s explore how eCommerce can help the medical supplies industry overcome other odds and offer opportunities for growth and innovation.
8 compelling reasons for medical devices distributors to invest in eCommerce
Improve sales and customer outreach
The shift towards eCommerce happened even before the pandemic. Only 54% of physicians reported that they met sales representatives for medical devices in person. The pandemic added to it.
Direct selling approach through field sales reps worked and still does. But millennial consumers and tech-savvy buyers demand digital ways to research, buy and transact. They demand it because they seek faster ways to complete their purchases, fewer sales rep interventions, and more DIY (do-it-yourself) services. Building an eCommerce store for your medical supply business makes perfect sense as it helps you cater to consumer expectations.
Also, by investing in digital marketing efforts, your brand can improve brand visibility, better discoverability of products, and increase sales.
Better operational efficiency
Traditional sales not only demand man-hours of field sales reps to close a deal. Everything from start to end involves paperwork and manual workflows, making traditional sales prone to errors or lost deals.
With an eCommerce system, you can minimize errors, accelerate time-taking processes, and automate repetitive tasks to free up the workforce for more important jobs. Your sales, order processing, transactions, operations, and fulfillment efficiency become streamlined and error-free.
Expand to new markets
Embracing eCommerce enables you to expand your medical supply business to new markets, build multi-sites, support various currencies, languages, payment gateways, and much more. For a brand that caters to the healthcare industry, expanding to new local and global markets is not even a choice. It’s a responsibility that you should be prepared to respond to any new demands across geographies.
Sort out compliance issues
Judicial laws, rules, and regulations for the healthcare industry vary between countries and states. As a medical equipment supplier, you might cater to physicians and hospitals in various regions with different compliance policies.
With an eCommerce built for selling your medical supplies online, you can control product supplies and availability based on your consumers’ location. It also keeps you legally covered while expanding to new markets.
Improve customer experience
Enhance customer experience right from the start to the end. It’s all about enabling DIY customer service across every layer of your buyers’ journey (research, ordering, checkout).
Research – Provide powerful site search engines (powered with auto-complete, autocorrect, and related suggestions) for users to find your products quickly. Classify products neatly into different categories and sub-categories based on treatments, practice areas, brand names, use cases etc.
Complement your search engine with filters to narrow down based on product type, price range, ratings, attributes, etc. Showcase product information like specs, price, demo videos, and images clearly for users to know what they are buying. You can provide personalized product suggestions through recommendation engines and also improve cross-selling opportunities.
Ordering – Showcase real-time inventory levels, and provide options like backordering for consumers to order in advance. Show tax calculations upfront in order details. Simplify the reordering process for regular buyers to repeat purchases in a flash.
Enable multiple user accounts for a single organization to accommodate various stakeholders involved in the buying process (procurer, purchase approval manager etc.). With multi-tier pricing, showcase different product pricing based on consumers and consumer groups.
Offer and manage quotes for B2B customers to negotiate prices and provide simple workflows to edit, finalize and manage quotes.
Checkout – B2B orders are often long or huge in volume. Simplify checkout with autofill fields. You can list order summaries with prices and other important particulars for consumers to get a holistic view of the order placed. You can also offer edit options to add or minus products to the cart. Enable multiple payment gateways and credit-based checkout for B2B buyers to transact in a flash.
Stay responsive, sell 24/7
Availability and responsiveness are of utmost importance when catering to a B2B medical devices buyer. You never know when there will be a surge in demand for a particular medical device. If you build an eCommerce website, your brand becomes accessible 24/7 and can cater to the demands whenever required. It’s more efficient and less cost-consuming than maintaining a physical store and a dedicated person to respond to calls.
Break down data silos within your organization. Stop maintaining crucial information like customer data, product data, order data, sales insights, and more in disconnected systems. Integrate your ERP, CRM, PIM, and order management systems with your medical supplies eCommerce store’s backend through APIs. With seamlessly interconnected systems, eliminate errors, avoid miscommunications, bundle products better, and make better business decisions.
Automate and simplify workflows
Automate manual workflows within the organization and those with your B2B buyers. Through automation, you can simplify inventory and warehouse workflows. Reduce paperwork in contracts, quotes, and negotiations. More such automation can help cut operational costs and improve efficiency and customer experience.
How to choose the right platform for your medical supplies eCommerce store
While finding the right platform to build your medical supplies store, you’ll have to check for the following:
Scalability, customizability, and integration capabilities are the three significant factors your eCommerce platform should offer. Scalability ensures there’s enough room for growth, be it gradual or rapid. Customizability is the key to bringing new technologies and features into your site faster, with convenience. It helps your store adapt to the rapidly changing market and consumer needs. The more customizable your platform is, the less you’ll need a bigger or better platform in the future.
Integration capability ensures that the systems involved in your various internal and customer-facing operations work together in harmony. Seamlessly connecting disparate systems and unifying data can help you get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening and get to the grassroots of any small transaction.
If you are contemplating a monolithic system for your medical supplies eCommerce store, check if it has built-in inventory, order, and warehouse management tools. Else, it’s fine if it has good integration capability to connect third-party systems with your store.
Other native, must-have B2B features your platform should have are accounts-based pricing and login, support B2B workflows, quote management (RFQ and QTC processes), accommodating multiple stakeholders in a purchase order workflow, credit-based transactions, and re-ordering.
As your online business grows, you’ll have to expand to more sales channels besides your eCommerce store. Check if your platform facilitates selling capabilities beyond your B2B medical supplies store.
You can venture into omnichannel selling by listing your products on marketplaces, building a B2B portal, PWA (progressive web app), etc. Connect all your sales channels with your medical supplies eCommerce store to establish a well–connected omnichannel ecosystem.
Looking for an eCommerce agency to get your project started?
Ziffity can help. We have hands-on experience helping medical supplies and healthcare brands overcome eCommerce challenges. Our experts can guide you in the platform selection process, decipher the cost estimate, and determine the roadmap for your eCommerce project.
We’d be happy to listen if you need a consultation on implementation, migration, integration, or support and maintenance for your medical supply distribution store.