How to Sell Medical Supply & Equipment Online: Business Guide
Medical supply market: trend for digitization
Over the last five years, the online medical supply sales industry has been steadily growing at an annualized rate of 17%. In 2020, the growth was further fueled by the global COVID-19 spread entailing an increased demand for medical supplies by both individuals and all kinds of healthcare institutions.
A journey to digital sales will be unique for each medical company, still six milestones will form the basis of your business plan.
Establish a supply system:
- Shortlist vendors if you are new to medical supply market. Make sure to factor in the manufacturing capacity and resources of a vendor to support your planned sales volume.
- Estimate an increase in supply resulting from online sales if your business is already present offline.
Launch an online store well-tailored to the specifics of your product vertical and target audience.
Plan an automated order management system to enable fast delivery critical for medical products.
Organize the shipment of large-size medical equipment.
Advertise your webstore to take hold on a competitive market.
ScienceSoft can help with:
Market entry consulting (market entry research, feasibility study).
Website design and development.
Automation of your business processes (supply chain, order distribution).
Ecommerce models for medtech manufacturers/sellers
How to build an e-solution for medical supply & equipment business
We look at an e-solution for healthcare suppliers from two perspectives: as a customer-facing ecommerce website and a constituent of back-office operations. Hence, we describe the website features to have and show a map of technology integrations needed to set up business workflows.
Medical supply & equipment catalog management
- Configurable navigation, faceted product search.
- Unlimited product attributes.
- Simple, configurable and bundled products.
- Pre-defined product templates with different attribute sets.
- Recommendations of similar or supplement products.
- Stock tracking.
- Backorders and back-in-stock notifications.
- 360-degree product images for sophisticated medical devices.
- AR-powered user manuals.
Typical ecommerce website structure
- Page builder for content editing and publishing.
- Catalog pages:
- Online merchandizing tools.
- Product details pages:
- Multiple images per SKU.
- Video format of product description.
- Product rating and reviews.
- Product reviews moderation.
- Shopping cart:
- Automated tax and shipping calculation.
- Out-of-the-box and custom payment methods.
- Order management dashboard to view, edit and fulfil orders.
- Invoices, packing slips, and shipping labels available for printing.
- Return management authorization.
Ecommerce website setup
- HIPAA compliance.
- Template-based or custom website design.
- Multi-store setup to target different geographies or represent different brands.
Functionality specific to B2C targeting
Guided purchasing process
- High-value product content: product descriptions, downloadable product specifications, video manuals, disposal instructions, etc.
- Price comparison for similar products.
- Pricing based on a customer group (e.g., the elderly).
- Prescription validation.
- Health insurance submission.
- Clear indication of non-refundable items.
- Limitation of item quantity per user.
Transparent shipment tracking
- Estimated delivery date.
- Order tracking number available in a customer’s profile.
- Live updates and email notifications on order status.
Functionality specific to B2B targeting
Multi-role account management
- Multiple roles reflecting a company’s procurement hierarchy.
- Possibility to create, edit and delete permissions for all orders (created by a user or subordinates).
- Bulk order approval/rejection.
- Shopping cart export for management approval.
Flexible price formation tools
- Automated quantity-based discounts.
- Customer segmentation.
- Shared catalogs with segment-specific and individual pricing.
- Negotiable price quotes.
Facilitated placement of bulk and complex orders
- Multiple requisition lists of frequently bought items for quick reorder.
- Order by SKU and product files importing.
- Backorders for items out-of-stock or with insufficient stock availability.
Payment and order shipment
- Company credit displaying the current outstanding balance, available credit, and the credit limit.
- Split order shipment to multiple locations.
Key functionality to include in your e-medical solution
- Creates a consolidated database of vendors.
- Provides a platform for digital communication with vendors.
- Enables the placement and tracking the status of procurement orders.
- Facilitates reordering.
- Gives access to the whole transaction history per each vendor.
Inventory management system
- Consolidates real-time stock information from multiple warehouses.
- Alerts on low stock and thus timely prevents out-of-stocks.
- Eliminates manual activities aimed at inventory control and improves labor productivity.
Order management system
- Routes orders automatically to an optimal warehouse based on geographical location and stock levels.
- Enables the setup of workflows to fulfill orders different in order value, quantity, and more.
- Informs customers of order shipment and status changes with automated emails.
Data analytics solution
- Enables sales forecasting for different regions, types of medical equipment and supplies, buyers, etc.
- Optimizes the use of warehouse space by preventing stale stock.
- Nurtures customer loyalty by preventing insufficient stock.
Challenge #1. Building ecommerce on top of an informational website: costly and time-consuming
Solution: Headless approach
If your medical supply business is already present online with a product catalog or an educational resource (mostly likely built on a CMS), you need to migrate your website from a CMS to an ecommerce platform to enable online sales. The migration might be challenging, however, as you will have to rebuild all the pages anew. The most cost-effective solution will be to decouple the front and back end of your CMS to enable headless data delivery. Then, you will create ecommerce pages and elements in a CMS and connect them via APIs to a newly implemented ecommerce back end.
Challenge #2. The market dominated by big players
Solution: Relationship marketing to accrue your market power
The market of medical supplies and equipment is pretty competitive with large manufacturers and suppliers having established long-term relationships with major clients. Market newcomers may try to overcome this entry market barrier by lowering the prices. This tactic, however, can be self-destructive and lead to a negative profit margin.
What we recommend is relationship marketing.
Challenge #3. The need for a sales team is eliminated by online retail
Solution: Sales team refocusing
For medical equipment business, an ecommerce portal is a self-service tool for clients to choose products, place orders and conduct payment transactions – the actions that used to require from them regular communication with salespeople via email, phone calls or fax. But ecommerce does not make a sales team redundant, rather it frees up their time for strategic thinking and customer relationship building. Their functions may shift to:
Numerous factors will shape the project cost: the volume of your product catalog, web design requirements, the scope of your audience targeting, the maturity of your business workflow automation and required integrations, to name a few. For the middle market of medical supply and equipment sales, we estimate an average cost range for the design and development of an ecommerce portal at $70-250K.
Market prerequisites for guaranteed ROI:
- Overall digitalization of sales across all product verticals; the rise of digital maturity among individual consumers and corporate buyers.
- Short life cycle and recurrent nature of medical assets, which makes medical supply and equipment businesses immune to market downturns.
Advocates of digital transformation, we are ready to make your initiative of selling medical supplies and equipment a success. We provide end-to-end ecommerce implementation for medical supply & equipment businesses.
Our ecommerce and healthcare certified consultants will conduct comprehensive research to make your market entry well-targeted. Namely, they will:
- Analyze the target audience, create personas, plan digital user journeys.
- Make you aware of market entry specifics (competition, industry regulations and governmental laws).
- Plan competitive advantages of digital experience to provide.
- Calculate required investments and assess expected ROI.
Since 2005, our team has been responding to challenges that manufacturers and sellers of medical products face. To help you launch online sales, we:
- Elicit your business requirements and translate them into the functional characteristics of the future solution.
- Opt for the best-suited digital technologies to meet your ecommerce and content management needs.
- Unfold ecommerce development process: set up hosting environment, install the software, configure and customize it to comply with functional requirements.
- Develop custom digital solutions if it’s justified by your business requirements.
- Integrate your ecommerce operations with other business workflows to ensure automated data transfer.