B2B eCommerce and the medical device industry are both growing. Frost & Sullivan predicts B2B eCommerce will be double the size of B2C by 2020 ($6.7 trillion versus $3.2 trillion). At the same time, an aging population and the development of new technologies are fueling growth in the medical devices and supplies market. According to IBISWorld research, the medical supplies market in the US alone was worth $192 billion in 2017. Forward thinking companies will see the convergence of these two trends and will make sure to be among the first to benefit from it. While B2B eCommerce is sure to fuel the growth of the medical device market as a whole, pioneers will get a unique possibility to use digitization of their businesses as a powerful differentiator.
What Medical Device Buyers Want
The internet has changed how people shop for goods and services in the B2C sector. But what every B2B industry must realize is that the changes in B2C have also impacted B2B procurement. Today’s B2B buyers expect the same customer experience researching and purchasing products in their office as they do surfing the web for personal products. 74% of B2B buyers research their purchases online and once they make a decision, 93% want to complete the purchase online. In 2016, 30% of B2B buyers were already making at least half of their purchases online. Doctors, surgeons, and hospital purchasing agents are no different.
What buyers want is a self-serve model where they can purchase what they want, when they want, where they want.Traditionally, health-related B2B sales are all about personal relationships. But, Forrester predicts that by 2020, 85% of all B2B buyer-seller relationships will be managed without human interaction. Since a recent Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) Insights Report shows that 73% of all hospitals and health systems currently purchase all or most of their medical-surgical supplies through distributors, medical device manufacturers and distributors should strongly consider offering an eCommerce option. A recent research by Apruve, Inc., also finds that only 11% of companies offer a mobile app for buyers. This represents opportunity for early and first movers.
Benefits of B2B eCommerce
B2B eCommerce is much more than customers placing orders for medical supplies online. While that may be a main motivation to move online, eCommerce does much more. In terms of building brand awareness, scaling operations, increasing sales, decreasing inefficiencies, and improving customer experience and service, eCommerce offers many competitive advantages.
New Markets and New Customers. Medical device buyers are already researching and buying online. If you don’t show up in their search, you don’t exist. Currently, 76% of B2B buyers cite ease of finding information as the most important factor in making a purchase. An eCommerce store is your 24/7 sales rep. You can easily reach more prospects and penetrate new markets and locations without opening additional offices. Through the power of localization, you can serve global markets in their own language, currency, and preferred delivery options all without the heavy investment of a brick and mortar presence.
Brand Awareness. eCommerce supports content marketing, display advertising, pay per click advertising and social media marketing. By optimizing pages to be indexed by search engines, you optimize your ranking in search results and improve the odds that your target audience will find you. Because it’s digital, it’s easy to split-test messages and identify your top performers to maximize marketing ROI.
Improve Customer Experience. Your eCommerce site does more than just draw in new customers; it is a powerful tool for improving the customer experience for existing customers. Buyers can check on the status of an order, track an order, get authorization for a return, view past orders and easily place a new order. You can increase average order value through strategic cross-selling and upselling. Best of all, your customers have 24/7/365 access to your company. This is the self-serve model today’s medical buyers demand.
Scalability. An eCommerce solution fuels growth and scales to respond to new demands in the market while providing new sales channels and simultaneously supporting the omnichannel experience B2B buyers demand. 71% of medical supply distributors with an eCommerce site report that their customers utilize mobile and desktop devices for access.
Increase Operational Efficiency. Eliminate the need for extra manual work. Because customers are inputting their orders online, the human error of a sales person manually inputting an order is eliminated. This frees customer service reps to provide actual customer service instead of merely taking and entering orders. Integrating your website with your ERP can decrease order errors, improve shipping and inventory processes, and simplify billing.
Harness Power of Data and Analytics. Digitizing sales allows you to better measure and evaluate:
- marketing campaigns
- sales force effectiveness
- product mix
- inventory turns
- customer service effectiveness
- customer engagement and satisfaction
For an in-depth look at why your medical device company should make the move to eCommerce, download the free guide “Why B2B Companies Should Sell Online Now“.
Selecting the Right Solution
In a recent survey of independent distributors, HIDA asked respondents to identify the number one challenge to eCommerce. It’s no surprise that most said it was how much to spend and where to spend it. Selecting the right solution can seem like a daunting task. While B2C taught people to buy online, B2C solutions are not fit for handling the complexities of B2B eCommerce. Customized product catalogs and price lists, purchase order acceptance, multiple approvals, financing or terms, and multiple shipping addresses are just a few needs specific for B2B.
Key Features. Look for solutions that offer multiple access levels with the ability to add and edit multiple customer users, with different user roles and permissions. Personalization of product catalogs and prices lists is a must. In addition, it must support multiple payment terms and checkout workflows. Your solution should allow you to offer quick order and reorder forms and one-page checkout. Data should not only be captured, but a powerful segmentation engine should support analytics.
Flexibility. Solutions that don’t integrate aren’t solutions at all. Evaluate the B2B capabilities as well as the ability to integrate with your existing ERP, CRM, and other back-end systems. The greater the flexibility, the more effective your solution will be. Because you need a solution that will grow as you grow, look for scalability. Finally, strong technical support and a robust partner ecosystem are hallmarks of a flexible and adaptable solution.
Market Research. Market research is crucial to identify your options. Fortunately, Frost & Sullivan recently completed a comprehensive and exhaustive study of the B2B eCommerce vendor landscape. They’ve done the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is download and read their report.