Over the past few years, e-commerce has become a tremendous asset for companies and businesses worldwide. More than ever, customers are more likely to purchase a product or service online than the traditional way. The term ‘e-commerce’ is common among many business world sectors, such as retail, but it can also significantly impact the healthcare industry. The healthcare institutions now spend 10 billion dollars a year on digital technology and will reach 32 billion dollars a year in 2021.
You might think that e-commerce will not work in the healthcare industry due to clients’ private nature, but it is becoming an increasingly popular option for clinics and medical practices. Ecommerce allows your product or service to be accessible to more people, as electronic shopping eliminates the barriers of location and distance between your product or service and your customer. More and more people are buying their medical items online rather than visiting physical clinics and pharmacies. Using e-commerce in the healthcare industry is something that is being rapidly outworked and suggested for clinics and other retailers in the industry. Setting up an online space for customers to buy products could be a game-changer for your medical practice.
Things to Consider for Your Clinic:
1. Product Packaging
The packaging of your product is a big thing to consider when delivering and shipping products to clients. You want to make sure the product has enough packaging to be protected during the delivery process. This will also directly affect the customer experience. If a product that is inadequately packaged is delivered, they will most likely not want to purchase from your clinic again. Think about what type of boxes to use and protective material such as bubble wrap. Use colors and designs that match the branding and style of your clinic and your website.
2. Product Representation
Whether you are using a website or social media shops to sell your products, the images and description you use to portray your product are essential. Make sure to use high-quality photos of your product. If you are selling another brand’s product, there are usually high-quality images already available for you to use on your website or social media store. Choose your product lists wisely. The products you sell have a direct impact on your clinic. Choose products that will help your clinic build credibility.
3. Implement Marketing Automation
When selling your products online, there are great marketing strategies for you to utilize. Marketing automation tools include pop-up’s that give new visitors a discount or provide discounts for people who subscribe to your clinic’s website. Once a customer enters their contact information, you can email them with promotions, information about your clinic, and other special offers. This is an excellent way to keep clients coming back to your website and making a purchase.
4. Your Return Policy
Having a return policy stated on your website or social media shop provides customers with confidence and peace of mind when purchasing from your clinic. Clients cannot physically see the product before buying it, therefore having a good return policy will give them the confidence they need to buy your product.
Statistics show that over 50% of web traffic was consumed via a smartphone or tablet. It is essential to make sure your online store and website are optimized for mobile devices.
Ecommerce for Sales Management
There are various e-commerce options for you to implement in your clinic. Here are the two leading online platforms available for you to manage and sell products from your clinic:
Many retailers and companies use a website for customers to click on and order products or services. This is the most common way to buy products or services online. You can do this by creating an online store or checkout process for customers on your clinic’s website. This is made easy through e-commerce payment solutions such as Woocommerce, Shopify, and Volusion. Each payment solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. Choose the option that is best suited to your clinic and website. The advantage of using this platform is that management tools manage delivery shippings, checkouts, and payments, and other logistical tasks. You will not have to worry about all these factors.
2. Social Media
The second most popular way to set up an e-commerce platform for your clinic is through social media. Besides social media being an advertising tool for your clinic, you can now also set up shops on your social media pages where customers can purchase your product or service. You can set up ads to run to gain more traffic to your store. This is a great feature to utilize as you can also have product reviews built-in.
Instagram shops are a way for Instagram users to shop your clinic’s products. Instagram has made it easy for customers to purchase products, thanks to the bag icon, which instantly directs viewers to the purchasing option on your clinic store. You can add a product tag to any images that you may have of your product. Facebook shops offer similar features to Instagram. Your product is displayed on your profile page, and the entire checkout process is made easy.
Ecommerce for Administration Management
Ecommerce is not only used for checkout processes and payment solutions, but there are also tools and software, such as PIM (Product Information Management), to help you manage your clinic and assist with administrative tasks. You can provide the same quality experience to all your clients through these solutions. Here are a few ways that you can implement e-commerce solutions to help run administration tasks for your clinic:
1. Automation and Storage
Through an e-commerce clinic management system, you can automate processes across all your various centers and use a cloud-based server, making it easy to track and access all the information in one place. This includes trends, performance analysis, and sale figures.
2. Receive Reports
There are various e-commerce solutions available for your clinic that provide you with regular reports on your clinic’s different avenues. You can get reports about the metrics that you would like to measure in your business, such as expenses, revenue, and inventory.
3. Online Scheduling
Ecommerce solutions allow your customers and clients to book appointments online. According to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, it shows that online scheduling reduces the number of no-shows, staff labor, and the number of times patients have to wait before they can get attended to. Employees spend less time handling client bookings and have more time to focus on getting other tasks done. You can also automate tasks such as patient reminders, bill reminders, and prescription refills. Your scheduling system can also be adjusted to predict no-shows and show cancellations through a smart calendar.
4. Online Forms and Applications
Upon arriving at a clinic, filling in forms and applications can be quite time-consuming. Having an online system available for patients to fill out forms electronically before arriving at the clinic will save staff and clients time and help you run your clinic more efficiently. Make forms available on your website.
5. Online Customer Care Experience
Ecommerce solutions allow patients to talk with a doctor or medical professional through an online chat service where patients can describe their symptoms and proceed to order their prescribed medication all from the comfort of their home and have it delivered to their door. If their condition is serious, clients would need to go for a physical examination, but in most cases where that is not needed, an online chat interaction saves time and money for both the client and doctor.
Benefits of Using Ecommerce
- Reduces costs and boost sales. Office expenses such as electricity and administration equipment are not needed for your website and online platforms. Making your products available online can also boost your sales.
- Reduces staff workloads. Usually, in the healthcare industry, many clinics and medical practices are understaffed and under-resourced. By using e-commerce for your clinic, it lifts some of the weight off of staff.
- Bringing the healthcare industry together. The introduction of e-commerce into the healthcare section has made the industry more collaborative. Events such as the eCommerce & Digital Strategies Conference bring healthcare professionals from all over the world together.
- It provides more transparency within the healthcare industry. Due to multiple price comparison websites available, healthcare personnel has transparency around their prices and services.
Cons of Using Ecommerce
- The beginning process of starting up e-commerce for your clinic will require a lot of time and effort. The set-up process can be quite complex. You may need to transition to dropship retail so that a third-party can help you manage everything.
- Healthcare requires confidentiality with the information of patients and clients. Using online systems can be a risk when dealing with sensitive data. You would need to make sure your online platforms are highly secure.
- Through online communication on live chats, it is easy to lose personal interaction with clients. Strategies on how to treat customers with personal care must be implemented in your clinic.
- People are not used to using e-commerce in the healthcare industry. Studies done by the Harvard Medical School show that people are less likely to look for information online about healthcare information and pricing. The familiarity of traditional healthcare discourages people from using e-commerce for their healthcare needs.
What Security Measures Do You Need To Implement
There are many online threats to your e-commerce clinic. To combat these threats, you need to be aware of them and put in alternative measures to protect your website and your clinic’s information. Web Skimming is when hackers infiltrate your website with a malware-laced code that appears on your website pages. The malware-laced code accesses information from your website and copies essential data and information such as banking information from customers. Hackers aim to gain access to the shopping cart function and sell the card information of customers. The shopping cart function of your website needs to be secure and safe as many hackers are aware the online stores use third-party processors and do not vet the functionality code properly. Besides web skimming, there are many other ways for hackers to access your shopping cart. Through an SQL-injection, hackers go through the back end of your website to access information. This gives them the power to view private information and even manipulate your website. They could do anything from changing your products’ price or creating a fake off-site portal to trick customers.
To secure your website, especially your shopping cart function, you need to implement multiple security measures. Having just one security measure is not enough. If that one fails, your website will be left vulnerable. Here are some actions to put in place:
- Make sure you identify your third-party e-commerce provides and their ad vendors.
- Stay up-to-date with the patches of your web server code. This will prevent any SQL injections on your website.
- Regularly vet your shopping cart pages, as well as your ad server codes. There are free website scanning tools available to detect suspicious activity.
- Get coverage from your cyber insurance if any loss from hacking were to occur.
- Do research on hacking and stay up-to-date on all the latest news and developments.