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According to IBISWorld research, the medical supplies market was worth $192 billion in 2017 in the US alone. With B2B eCommerce also experiencing tremendous growth, smart, forward-thinking medical and pharmaceutical wholesalers will seek to converge these two growing trends – and here’s why.
The internet has changed how people react with technology. In the last decade, it has also impacted the way customers research and buy goods and services through eCommerce. And while B2C eCommerce is now well-rooted into our everyday lives, what every B2B business owner must realize is that changes in the B2C industry have in turn sparked changes in the B2B industry.
In fact, this concerted shift toward technology and innovation is so radical that Frost & Sullivan predicts B2B eCommerce will be double the size of B2C by 2020. Inevitably, this will also affect the medical and pharmaceutical supplies industry.
Should you embrace the digital trend?
As a medical and pharmaceutical business, you may be reluctant about moving your business online. Traditionally, the sales channel for the B2B medical supplies industry was managed by sales representatives who built their customer relationships in person. For this reason, it’s easy to see why many sales professionals initially viewed B2B eCommerce as a threat to their role as trusted advisors to their customer base.
In today’s marketplace, 74% of B2B buyers research their purchases online, and once they make their final decision, 93% of them go on to complete their purchase online. Hospital procurement managers as well as medical and pharmaceutical distributors are no different than these buyers.
According to Forrester Research, 85% of all B2B buyer-seller relationships will be managed without human interaction by 2020.
Despite these overwhelming statistics, only 11% of medical supply and pharmaceutical businesses currently offer a B2B eCommerce option. This presents a huge opportunity for smart, forward-thinking wholesalers to capitalize on the incredible benefits B2B eCommerce has to offer their business in profits and growth.
Why You Should Consider a B2B eCommerce Solution
B2B eCommerce encompasses a lot more than just an online ordering system. It also allows wholesalers to grow their business. How? By helping them to increase their sales, scale up their business, and improve their services.
1. Attract new prospects and penetrate new markets
Medical and pharmaceutical B2B buyers are already buying online. This means that if your business doesn’t have a B2B ordering portal, you’re losing out on the opportunity to tap into a large pool of potential customers not only in your region, but worldwide as well. With an eCommerce solution, you can reach more prospects and establish yourself in new markets — with no brick-and-mortar expenses — simply by making your software available in other languages. To add to this, your B2B portal is open 24/7, all year long, meaning you can receive new orders anytime and from anywhere.
2. Enhance business processes and services, and improve your operational efficiency
A smart B2B eCommerce software allows you to harness many powerful tools as well as monitor your business cycle more closely and intensively. With an eCommerce solution, you can measure many aspects of your business, including:
- your sales cycle;
- your inventory turns;
- your sales reps and their customer service effectiveness; and
- your product mix.
Having all this data at hand means that, over time, you’ll be able to control and improve customer satisfaction. Taking your business online also means you can use powerful digital marketing tools (e.g. email marketing, etc.) to boost your sales volume and increase average order value. In other words, the data and analytics provided by an eCommerce solution can help you produce better content for your customers and deliver processes to match their preferences.
A B2B eCommerce solution can also help you improve the purchasing experience for existing customers. How? When you sell through an eCommerce portal, the ordering process is completely transparent because your customers can check on the status of their orders, view past orders, quickly reorder their preferred items, browse and download your product catalog, contact your customer service team, and even manage their account — all 24/7 at their fingertips.
Finally, a B2B eCommerce platform will also help your medical or pharmaceutical business create a solid, unified business process by integrating and automating your sales transactions, and by streamlining warehousing and logistics.
As one of our clients at B2B Wave states:
“My customers can purchase my products 24/7 and pay instantly as well as having full control over how and when their products are dispatched. Set up an API to connect your B2B platform to warehousing and delivery to make one perfectly connected system.”
3. Channel up, then scale up
In 2016, wholesalers who began to sell online reported a 44% increase in revenue. How so? A B2B eCommerce solution opens up new sales channels for B2B businesses. Tablets and mobile phones are just two of these new channels. In fact, 71% of medical supply distributors with a B2B portal site report that their customers utilize mobile and desktop devices for access. As a result, opening up your online B2B store leads to the opportunity to scale your business and, eventually, will fuel your business’s growth.
4. Save on costs and increase productivity
A survey by Market Dynamics reported that in over 50% of larger companies, handling paperwork associated with the manual processing of a single sales order takes an average of more than 51 hours. The automated selling process introduced by eCommerce software eliminates that need for extra manual work since your customers are inputting their orders themselves. In fact, according to Forrester Research, the use of an eCommerce platform results in a cost savings of up to 90% due to processing errors being minimized and inefficiencies being resolved.
A B2B eCommerce portal also allows sales reps and customer service agents to focus on improving their services, instead of merely taking and entering orders and contacting clients. Moreover, integrating your website with your ERP can also decrease order errors, improve shipping and inventory processes, and simplify billing.