The healthcare sector is digitizing at an amazing pace. According to Adroit Market Research, global medical healthcare eCommerce is anticipated to be over $435 billion by 2025. Initial digital transformation drivers were the aging population and the willingness of consumers to do their own online research. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven the value of medical device eCommerce as medical suppliers must increasingly rely on digital channels to service customers and grow their business.
eCommerce and the Medical Supply Industry
The B2B healthcare market is different from other forms of eCommerce. Maintaining compliance with complex and myriad regulations is a major challenge and has kept some players out. But for those who navigate the landmines of HIPPA and other medical data security issues, the medical equipment eCommerce niche is a highly lucrative market.
Hospitals, clinics, and individual practices are relying more than ever on eCommerce to procure their medical supplies. In 2018, hospitals were the largest category of eCommerce healthcare buyers (over 53%). Medical devices account for 34% of eCommerce purchases in the healthcare space.
In 2019, the median age for purchasing professionals was 45 years old. This is the internet generation. They look to the internet from their smartphones, tablets, and laptops for solutions to their problems. Product research begins with an internet search. Amazon understands this and so should you.
In 2017, Amazon announced that Amazon Business would enter the medical supply and healthcare market and today they count 84 of the top 100 health systems as their customers. Not bad for less than three years of work.
What Medical Device Buyers Want
Like all professional buyers, medical supply procurement professionals are looking for exceptional customer experience. In 2020, customer experience is the main differentiator, even over price and product. And people are willing to pay more for an exceptional experience. It’s that important.
In the medical supply industry, sellers are using their eCommerce channel to provide proof of their dedication to customer satisfaction and client success. Something as simple as offering content that helps customers develop plans for rationing PPE and hand sanitizer or offering sales and support outside of regular business hours or providing for expedited and emergency deliveries provides buyers the customer experience they demand. In a post-pandemic environment, proving the strength of your supply chain is incredibly reassuring.
As purchasing agents are forced to do more with less and procure supplies from multiple sources, they are looking for a process with as little friction as possible. An eCommerce option is the solution they seek.
The path to purchase generally starts with a Google search. 94% of healthcare equipment buyers first research products online. It’s the beginning of the self-serve process that includes finding product specifications and technical information as well as case and use studies. These busy professionals appreciate a digital RFQ process and they also want assurances on product availability and your ability to deliver on time. Transparency in inventory status is valued in any supply chain, but it is especially critical in the medical supply market. An eCommerce site complete with live inventory levels lets medical supply buyers know what you have available.
Benefits of eCommerce for Medical Suppliers
eCommerce for medical supplies benefits medical supply manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors alike.
Increase sales by entering new markets without the costs associated with establishing a new office. An eCommerce site is an anytime anywhere sales rep that never sleeps never takes a vacation, doesn’t occupy space, and doesn’t require employee benefits. It’s a global sales rep that speaks any language and transacts business in any currency using digital localization. An easy to find website that renders flawlessly on all devices is the engine to your marketing machine. Create landing pages and A/B test the message to fine-tune for the best conversion.
Gain more control of what and where you sell using eCommerce. You can set re-order limits on quantity and time to prevent panic buying and use data to help customers set inventory limits. You can also control the visibility of products to comply with local regulations, so you never find yourself in a grey market situation.
Improve the customer experience with a site that provides a self-service experience, complete with rich media. Customers take care of routine transactions themselves and your sales staff focuses on strengthening relationships, helping customers solve problems, and nurturing leads. By customizing the product and pricing catalog by customer or vertical, you give each buyer an experience customized to their needs. Make re-ordering easy and even allow multi-level user-defined permissions.
Digitize workflows with a B2B eCommerce platform that integrates with your ERP, PIM, and other business solutions. Set pricing rules and digitize the RFQ and QTC process to speed the sales cycle. Your business decisions are data-informed, your order errors are reduced, and customers and employees are all much happier.
Position your company for the future with an eCommerce solution that serves your current business model but can change as your business changes. eCommerce lets you serve B2B and B2C markets easily or grow from B2B into B2B2C if the need arises. With eCommerce, entering new markets, opening new channels, and even launching new products is easier than ever.
Choosing a Platform for Your Medical Supply Business
Because the medical supply business is complex, you need a platform that embraces the complexity of medical device eCommerce.
Start by deciding the customer experience you want to provide and then look for a platform with the features you need. B2C solutions won’t work for the B2B medical supplies market, so look for options designed from the ground up for B2B.
Remember, buyers want the smoothest path to purchase, so make sure your medical device eCommerce platform removes as much friction as possible. Look for features that allow customers to set permissions for their own account. Rely on robust pricing engines to help automate the RFQ process and ensure every order is priced properly.
Make sure the solution includes responsive design on the front and back end. Customers and admins both want an impeccable mobile experience.
Consider how your eCommerce site will integrate with existing business solutions. There’s no efficiency in manually entering orders into the ERP, so investigate the availability of APIs to ease integration.
It’s important that as part of the platform selection process you create a vision of your company for the future. Then opt for a platform that has the flexibility to work now but will help you achieve your goals for future success. The more flexibility you have in your platform, the less likely it will be that re-platforming is necessary. So, make sure your platform can grow, diversify, and adapt as your business grows and changes.
The Future is Bright
The pandemic of 2020 may have disrupted world economies and changed how companies do business, but there’s room for optimism in the medical device market.
Companies that leverage the power of technology to deliver exceptional eCommerce experiences will use the same technology to scale and grow.
Technology has changed and improved medical devices. Technology is also improving how those devices are sold. For those that embrace eCommerce, a bigger slice of the pie awaits. And at a CAGR of 13.5% through 2026, the global medical supplies market is a large and juicy pie.