25 Reasons Why Medical Device Industry is embracing Omnichannel eCommerce
Life Sciences | 14 min READ
    
eCommerce for Medical Devices
Digital transformation in medical device industry has been taking over the world for quite a while. However, the pandemic has spearheaded the disruption in areas where it wasn't a salient aspect before.
John Danese
John Danese

Industry Director

Life Sciences

Birlasoft

 
For a long time, medical companies relied on their sales rep's meetings with customers to market their products, services, and innovations. But the current situation has drastically changed their customers' expectations and needs. Forrester Research predicts that by the year 2023, sales for medical healthcare eCommerce in the US alone will reach $1.8 trillion. Thus, to provide an extraordinary buying experience to the customers, the medical device manufacturers need to adopt an omnichannel strategy combining D2C and B2B eCommerce for selling their medical products and services.
Covid-19 has put the medical industry at the forefront with massive demands for diagnostic tests, ventilators, PPE kits, and other medical supplies. We saw how the industry went to extraordinary lengths to meet these surging demands. And this would not have been possible without med-tech leaders exploring creative solutions in the digital space.
Reasons Behind the Rise of eCommerce Adoption in Med Device Manufacturing
Nevertheless, this change was impending, as even before the pandemic, in-person visits of sales reps had already begun to decline as only 54% of physicians reported to have physically met them in their office. In response to the gravity of the situation, medical device manufacturers have begun transitioning into b2b eCommerce massively.
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This shift from physical sales to a b2b eCommerce model has several benefits as listed below:
  1. Frictionless Customer Experience
  2. Improved Sales
  3. Buyer Behavior Insights
  4. Rise of D2C Model Due to Pandemic
  5. Emerging Need for Salesforce Alignment
  6. Easy Expansion to Serve Newer Geographies
  7. Quicker Time to Market
  8. Inbound Inquiry Driven Sales
  9. Improved Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness
  10. Reduction in Operational Costs
  11. Marketing Enablement
  12. Elimination of Errors Due to Manual Operations
  13. Timely Delivery Tracking
  14. Real-time Inventory Data
  15. Improved Brand Awareness
  16. Access to Data & Analytics
  17. Control on Sales Catalogue
  18. Integration with Other Systems and Platforms
  19. Easy to Scale Up or Scale Down
  20. Multiple eCommerce Models
  21. Customer Feedback Loop
  22. Localization
  23. Faster and Timely Information Exchange
  24. Customer Empowerment
  25. CPQ Modernization
#1 Frictionless Customer Experience
One of the biggest challenges that the HCPs and patients face while interacting with a med device manufacturer company is its extensive fragmentation. These companies often go through mergers and acquisitions, leading to several fragmented and disconnected systems. The outdated legacy systems which aren't equipped to deal with these mergers add to the woes and create multiple user experience for the same medical device manufacturer.
An omnichannel eCommerce solves this problem by making use of AI and automation, combining, all the entities under a single umbrella to create a unified customer experience.
#2 Improved Sales
The traditional commerce model in the medical manufacturing industry is costly, time-consuming, and less efficient. But, the new omnichannel eCommerce model has massive potential for increasing sales of medical devices and services. A case study by Boston Consulting shows how a medical company in Europe unlocked $5 Billion by adopting an omnichannel strategy combining B2B and D2C.
A key component of omnichannel eCommerce is digital marketing. By utilizing digital marketing, medical companies can understand the customers' expectations and cater to their needs accordingly, eventually gaining customer loyalty and increasing sales.
#3 Buyer Behavior Insights
Today, 58 percent of consumers prefer their healthcare interactions to be digital. As the COVID-19 pandemic is changing how the world functions, consumer behaviour is changing continuously at a staggering pace. The healthcare industry needs to keep a tab on the everchanging consumer behaviour pattern to stay ahead in the competition.
Today, B2B omnichannel eCommerce solutions use AI and Big data analytics to help medical equipment manufacturers to understand the buyer's persona, buying patterns, needs, and wants. These insights enable the manufacturers to meet their customers' expectations and enhance their buying experience.
#4 Rise of D2C Model Due to Pandemic
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the patients took a proactive approach to their health and healthcare needs. While the pandemic put movement restrictions at several places, the consumer still had access to anything and everything through their mobile devices. This paradigm shift has necessitated the medical device manufacturers to adopt a direct-to-customer eCommerce model that has proven profitable for several brands. This model makes it easier for the brands to let customers buy directly from them via eCommerce sites, mobile phone apps, etc.
25 Reasons Why Medical Device Manufacturers are Embracing Omnichannel eCommerce
#5 Emerging Need for Salesforce Alignment
In the traditional healthcare setup, sales reps were equipped with sales involving in-person visits and focused on representing medical devices and products. However, omnichannel eCommerce has changed this approach from product-centric to customer-centric. The result is a massive skill gap in the existing salesforce. Research estimates that 64% of medical device manufacturing companies have launched programs to help their sales reps and executives to enhance their "inside sales" capabilities.
These programs include equipping them with online-communication tools, various forms of digital content, and remote selling. To gain the most out of this omnichannel strategy, the salesforce needs to be equipped with skills to customize an approach for each client or prospect instantaneously via digital mediums.
#6 Easy Expansion to Serve Newer Geographies
One of the biggest lessons the SARS–CoV–2 pandemic has taught us is how a well-coordinated medical community can control a global health crisis. The current healthcare industry has to be robust, dynamic, and responsive to national and international boundaries. Omnichannel eCommerce makes it easier for medical device manufacturers to expand and serve various geographies and nations.
#7 Quicker Time to Market
An omnichannel strategy is a win-win situation for patients, HCPs, and medical marketers alike. Consumers are happy because they receive a seamless experience, while marketers are happy to attract and retain more customers. B2B eCommerce opens doors for the sales rep to reach a wider range of audiences faster. Sales and marketing teams are moving to online channels to market their medical products and services, resulting in a quicker time to market. The hassles of traditional marketing, such as in-person visits, are considerably reduced. As soon as medical products or services are launched or updated, they can be available to buy via online channels.
#8 Inbound Inquiry Driven Sales
The easy accessibility and abundance of information nowadays have made the customer well-informed. This smart customer is at the heart of sales. They are clear about their wants, goals, and interest. Customers and patients today prefer connecting through omnichannel call-center technologies. Be it through the web, email, mobile phone apps, texts, calls, or email, and they are exploring all means to inquire about the medical equipment or services they require. To gain an edge in the contemporary world, medical equipment manufacturers need to accommodate the customer's above needs.
#9 Improved Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness
The Healthcare sector inherently involves a lot of paperwork with manual workflows for almost everything, whether inside sales, administrative tasks, or financial functions. This makes operations repetitive, time-consuming, costly, error-prone, and inefficient. By automating complex operational processes through intelligent technologies like AI, Data Analytics, and Blockchain, medical equipment manufacturers can reduce the time taken by manual, repetitive activities and eliminate redundant operations. Thus, omnichannel eCommerce can truly help streamline processes, whether manufacturing, procurement, or automated billing, thereby reducing processing errors and increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness.
#10 Reduction in Operational Costs
Adopting an eCommerce omnichannel strategy also means a digital shift in functions and operations. With automated and smart technologies, supply chain managers and the sales force can easily track medical device inventory accurately in real-time. They can also offer greater visibility to the customer, have more accurate forecasting capabilities, and analyze demand and supply patterns based on historical data. These streamlined inventories minimize errors and waste, enable timely data-driven decision-making, reduce supply and labour costs and significantly lower transactional and operational costs.
#11 Marketing Enablement
The key to a successful B2B omnichannel eCommerce strategy is digital marketing. The healthcare industry was dependent on general marketing until a while ago, but now it embraces the digital means to market its medical products and services. To reap the benefits, marketing teams in the medical device industry need to enable themselves with revolutionary marketing trends such as:
  • Affordable, time-saving marketing solutions for efficiency
  • Optimization of the product range for mobile devices for better customer experience
  • Search engine optimization to reach out to a wide range audience
  • Personalized healthcare marketing to attract the right customer
#12 Elimination of Errors Due to Manual Operations
Due to its manual nature of work, the medical device manufacturing industry faces challenges to drive the cost of sales and operations down and to bring the revenue and margin up. Switching to B2B omnichannel eCommerce introduces them to automated processes and software, resulting in efficient operations and extensive reduction of errors. Therefore, healthcare companies should include AI, Data Analytics, and CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) software to reduce manual errors in inventory management, configurations, quotes, billing, etc.
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#13 Timely Delivery Tracking
Customers prefer eCommerce due to its ease of ordering, best price products, and faster deliveries. B2B omnichannel eCommerce can offer timely delivery tracking of the medical equipment at every procurement stage.
By redesigning an omnichannel service delivery, medical device manufacturers can use tools and software to uncover unmet needs, conduct online troubleshooting, track delivery in real-time, and enhance collaboration among field technicians, sales reps, and call center executives.
#14 Real-time Inventory Data
Healthcare consumerism is a time-sensitive domain at the heart of which lies reliability and consistency. From the retail point of view, B2B omnichannel eCommerce enables effortless collaboration among various stakeholders and helps them share information in real-time. Interaction with medical device industry representatives and other healthcare touchpoints for consumers becomes easier. This helps them helping them to make a time-efficient and fully informed decision. Using advanced technologies to streamline business processes, B2B omnichannel eCommerce will show accurate stock levels of medical equipment by swiftly coordinating with the front-end systems.
#15 Improved Brand Awareness
Every MedTech marketer aspires to be the first choice when searching for a new medical equipment provider. However, the digital world has created a cut-throat competition where the consumers reach out to only those healthcare companies with a strong online presence. Therefore, medical device manufacturers should implement a brand awareness strategy to attract new customers and retain the existing ones. In a customer-centric world, the healthcare industry must fully embrace and develop the online shopping experience irrespective of the client's geographic location and preferred buying mode. They need to put their best foot forward through innovative digital marketing strategies to attract customer attention.
#16 Access to Data & Analytics
In a medical device company, the marketing and sales teams should complement each other to reach the company's financial target. An omnichannel eCommerce can provide the marketing team access to data and analytics related to consumer behaviour, demand and supply, and current market conditions. The marketing team can then pass on this insightful data to the sales reps and account managers, who can further utilize their field knowledge combined with analytical data to make important decisions. Analytics in medical supply chain management can also highlight any shortcomings in the healthcare processes or solutions; standardize them, and improve overall customer experience.
#17 Control on Sales Catalogue
The sales team in MedTech companies maintains a sales catalogue that contains a hierarchy of healthcare product groups curated based on the customer's needs. An omnichannel eCommerce model provides enhanced channel capabilities and enables the sales team to map the customer requirements in real-time, group the medical devices based on the current data available, and manage their sales catalogue digitally. They also have complete control in ensuring consistent quality and price of the product across all digital sales channels.
#18 Integration with Other Systems and Platforms
At the heart of omnichannel eCommerce lies a single view of the product and customer data. Generally, medical device companies already have the components like ERP, CRM, Inventory management, and master data sets. However, these components work in silos without any integration.
B2B omnichannel eCommerce technologies create a consolidated and unified view that enables the medical device manufacturers to efficiently manage and track data and connect it with different workflows and data sources within different departments and with third-party systems.
#19 Easy to Scale Up or Scale Down
The single source of truth for data helps in cross-platform integration and eases the scaling up and down of systems and processes. When it comes to sales, an omnichannel strategy cohesively combines all the sales and marketing channels. Healthcare companies can easily scale up or down their medical device manufacturing, sales, or marketing based on the current demand and insights about future needs. B2B omnichannel also makes it easier for MedTech companies to expand beyond their local region by reaching out to a larger audience through digital channels.
#20 Multiple eCommerce Models
The beauty of omnichannel eCommerce is to provide a seamless customer experience combining various sales channels giving rise to multiple eCommerce models. Healthcare eCommerce consists of four forms:
  • Online pharmacy
  • Online medical supply and equipment store
  • Telemedicine website
  • Healthcare marketplace
Based on the above forms, the medical device manufacturers who largely relied on the B2B sales model can now use several business models successfully, including B2B, B2C, and D2C.
#21 Customer Feedback Loop
Ecommerce provides the customer with a provision to leave feedback each time they use a particular product and service. A customer feedback loop is a reliable measure to know customer expectations and satisfaction from the medical products or services. It helps the healthcare industry take action based on buyer suggestions and opinions, resulting in continuous product improvement and enhanced customer connection and experience.
#22 Localization
As medical equipment sales are moving across borders, there is a dire need to local all the product-related information. Adoption of B2B eCommerce helps healthcare companies to improve their localization by moving all product or business content online through an eCommerce website, mobile phones apps, etc. Localization is done so that every instance of the information resonates with the individual markets created.
#23 Faster and Timely Information Exchange
With Omnichannel e-commerce, the medical equipment manufactures can ensure a swift exchange of information, medical supplies, and services with the healthcare providers (hospitals/nursing homes/clinics), insurers, and clients (patients). Combined with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), eCommerce gives the maximum advantage by serving in areas with poor or limited access to healthcare.
#24 Customer Empowerment
In the traditional healthcare marketing and sales model, medical device manufacturers take care of the branding and packaging guidelines. To maintain consistency, distributors put a lot of manual effort into consolidating the information from various sources, which often results in missed or corrupt information.
A shift to B2B eCommerce will help the healthcare industry create a single source of truth by centralizing all the product information to an online supplier portal that maintains transparency with manufacturers, healthcare providers, and patients alike. And the real-time nature of this data will ensure that all the stakeholders have the latest and correct product information all the time.
#25 CPQ Modernization
Medical device manufacturers often struggle with the complex pricing scenarios of medical supplies and services, especially when considering government programs like Medicare and Medicaid in the US and complex private insurance pricing. Therefore, a technology-driven eCommerce platform can help the med-tech marketing and sales teams get insightful pricing and account information. Automated CPQ software can help them minimize the error on quotes and present the right price to the customer. This software also gives sales reps a real-time insight into probable margins to sell profitable orders only.
The transformation of the healthcare industry through omnichannel eCommerce is the need of the hour. For a seamless customer experience, companies require a well-orchestrated system utilizing the best digital solutions and platforms available in the market. Modern technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics are changing the face of the medical industry by curating all healthcare services like telemedicine and other healthcare products and services to provide an enriched customer experience. It's high time that medical equipment manufacturers start adopting an omnichannel approach by combining B2B and D2C eCommerce for their medical products and solutions.
But the key to successful business growth lies in choosing the right technology. Thus, leveraging one of the best healthcare digital transformation services will help to make a smooth transition from in-person to digital channels. It's about time the medical industry focuses on creating a beautiful customer journey!
 
 
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