When it comes to world of healthcare, the evolution of e-commerce has had a varied impact on different segments within the industry. Some businesses that compete for consumer health care dollars have been fiercely fighting in online channels for many years, whereas other types of healthcare businesses are just now seeing a rising trend in e-commerce among their customers. Regardless of which end of the spectrum your business may find itself on, there is no question that e-commerce is a critical component of success in the healthcare industry and should be treated as such.
In this article, we will explore some of the trends in e-commerce that are continuing to shape the way healthcare products are being sold, and the impacts that these trends have had on the world of logistics, transportation, and warehousing. As a larger portion of consumers choose to purchase a wider range of goods through online channels, the demands on logistics resources are increasing at a rapid pace and making strategic investments in logistics can be the key to ongoing success in a highly competitive marketplace.
Consumer Behaviour Trends
While it may seem like ancient history to many of us, there was a time when online shopping was seen as a pipe dream by traditional retailers. Many business pundits and industry veterans railed against the premise of e-commerce with fears about privacy, credit card security, and consumer fraud. Assumptions were that it would only work for very specific types of products, and anything else just wasn’t realistic to sell online. Obviously, history tells a very different story from those incorrect predictions. Data security has advanced tremendously, alternate payment methods abound, and customers adopted e-commerce rapidly across many different types of products and services. All of these factors have irreversibly changed the world of business.
Of course, these trends have never stopped. Even the most unexpected products and industries now have thriving e-commerce segments and are continuing to grow. Everything is now available for purchase online, from music and movies, toys and electronics to cars, vacations and even groceries. This widespread level of consumer comfort with a shopping experience that is completely online has encouraged, and in some cases required, previously apprehensive businesses to begin to provide an e-commerce solution for their customers. In today’s competitive markets, the reality is, if your business is not willing to provide a shopping experience that aligns with consumer expectations, you can be sure that your competitors will.
Direct-to-Consumer Health Products
Healthcare is no exception to these trends, and consumer healthcare products are becoming increasingly accessible through online retailers and wholesalers, direct to the consumer. This segment is incredibly vast, encompassing everything from toothbrushes to nutritional supplements, and the percentage of retail sales from e-commerce is growing significantly year after year. While massive online-only retailers are certainly driving a large portion of this change, many manufacturers and suppliers of health-related consumer goods are opting for a direct-to-consumer e-commerce model that enables them to streamline their supply chain, offer a more controlled and on-brand customer experience, as well as reduce costs and overhead.
In this segment of the healthcare industry, many companies utilize drop-shipping services and third-party logistics providers to manage everything from warehousing, order fulfillment, material handling, packaging, inventory management, return goods processes, and even customer service. These types of all-in-one logistics firms provide many advantages for consumer-packaged goods companies in the healthcare industry, as they allow a company’s resources to be optimized more efficiently and frees up their time to focus strategies on sales, marketing, and business development tasks.
Commercial, Industrial, and Professional Healthcare
It’s important to note that it’s not just the consumer-packaged goods segment that has experienced a major shift to e-commerce. This change is also occurring in commercial, industrial, and professional healthcare product segments. While the growth here has been slower than that on the consumer side of things, this juggernaut has been gaining momentum steadily and won’t be stopping any time soon.
Interestingly, an increasingly diverse range of these products that traditionally would have been available only through industry-specific channels have now started to appear on digital retailer sites such as Amazon and others. This has been shown to present some challenges under certain circumstances such as regulatory compliance, reimbursement or prescriptions on these products. However, these challenges are not insurmountable and can be overcome with some guidance from logistics and industry experts who know the ins-and-outs of this new e-commerce healthcare world. Much in the same way that online retail is an essential requirement on the consumer goods side of the healthcare industry, it is quickly become a key component on the commercial, industrial, and professional sides as well.
For any company in the world of healthcare products and equipment, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your e-commerce experience and determine if it’s sufficient to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and evolving marketplace. Every opportunity should be explored to determine where potential gains exist, and which ones present the smartest investment for future success.
To conduct this analysis of your business and the opportunities that make the most sense, you should consult with a trusted third-party logistics firm such as SCI. The experts at SCI are well-versed in the nuances of the healthcare industry, and we are at the cutting edge of online e-commerce retail logistics technology. Our team is ready to help answer your questions and work with you to explore all options to maximize the potential return on your logistics investments.
Contact us today to speak with an SCI healthcare logistics expert to see how we can help your healthcare related organization establish, manage and grow the ecommerce side of your business.