Healthcare ecommerce has seen consistent growth over the past decade, and during the last couple of years, the Amazon effect within the healthcare space has caught everyone’s attention. Even though B2B healthcare companies have generally been quick to adapt to elevate digital and technological maturity, the involvement of marketplaces in the healthcare sector exposed the need for transparency in product information such as pricing and product specs.
The need for a seamless customer experience, speed to market, product and pricing transparency, and value of informational content in the B2B space has grown exponentially, meaning manufacturers have been creating more content and product information for their respective digital networks including one of their key channels– their distributors.
Distributors already have their work cut out for them when it comes to keeping up with digital maturity and automation in relation to the sourcing and distribution of product information. To add another level of complexity to an already busy sector, the Covid-19 pandemic has perpetuated leaders to re-evaluate their business models and sales strategies. It isn’t enough to just automate the technical touchpoints anymore. Now more than ever it’s important that the product content is accurate, consistent across all channels, and able to make available quickly.
But with speed comes challenges, and as companies evaluate the trials that come with a mitigation plan, it is key to prepare the business for a world post-pandemic rather than just organizing for the current global climate in the midst of Covid-19. To get started with the evaluation, companies can consider the following aspects of their business process and look for opportunities to build further efficiency:
Sourcing Product Information from Various Vendors/Manufacturers
Vendors/Manufacturers control their respective branding and packaging guidelines. This information doesn’t always flow consistently to distributors or sometimes gets skipped altogether. Hence, distributors must invest a lot of manual effort to consolidate information from various manufacturers and make the product information consistent in their own system.
In a scenario like this, companies should consider provisioning a supplier onboarding portal that would allow manufacturers to be self-sufficient when uploading their product information. A platform like this would also enable distributors to review and approve all content before importing it into their own product information management (PIM) system to maintain a consistent single source of truth.
The Product Syndication Process
Manufacturers need to syndicate their product data to multiple channels, distributors being one of them. The challenge occurs when the same product serves multiple industries and hence, multiple categories. For example, vinyl gloves are a category of product that can span across many classifications such as cleaning supplies, medical provisions, safety gear, etc. and the manufacturer may need this product to be syndicated to various channels with slightly different product information for each. In turn, distributors face a similar challenge as they must also provide product information to various customers.
Being able to change product information based on channel or customer type is a key area to consider when making improvements. Companies should consider developing standard mappings and configuring automated syndications so that the product data from a PIM system can easily be structured within different categories and channels to seamlessly be sent to these channels regularly.
There are often various personas that research and purchase products in the healthcare field. You have users with clinical backgrounds as well as users with business backgrounds. It can be a struggle to manage product data and information to cater to each group independently. For example, people who don’t fall into a clinical persona won’t need or want to see pictures of patients’ injuries when purchasing a wound care product.
Being able to manage all types of product data and content in a centralized location is key to supporting based on use case. Even though buyers would not interact directly with your PIM system, this method of personalized content delivery can be provisioned through outbound channels or metadata on images, and there can be rules built during an outbound configuration that a commerce platform can interpret to cater to various user personas.
These are some of the use cases we have actively seen in our conversations with manufacturers and distributors when assisting companies that need to revisit and build efficiency in their PIM processes and systems. If you have similar challenges in your organization or other scenarios that you’re evaluating related to the management of your product information, reach out to find out how our team can help.
To learn more about the various innovations and growth we’re seeing in the B2B healthcare space today, check out our free guide, How to Innovate and Evolve in the B2B Healthcare Industry.