Integration: Mobile is here to play. Are you?
Online, cash, retail, e-commerce, amazon, mobile. These are all buzzwords that HME providers are familiar with, but how exactly can they integrate them into their businesses to not only add revenue streams, but also complimentary services and programs?
Let’s break down these opportunities into two key areas: online and mobile. Strategies for both online and mobile should be integrated together so that there is no corrosion of the branded message. Below I have listed how both of these venues can be used in a variety of different types of business models that are applicable to the HME industry.
Traditional storefront with informational website
This is any business with a physical location that has an informational website that cannot take orders. Here’s how these providers can use online and mobile to drive more store and web traffic, which in turn will lead to increased sales.
Local first: Register your business with google local, a program that displays businesses locally for their services.
Content: Make sure your website content is proofed and complete for each specific
Ease of use: Make your website easy to navigate and explore.
Accessible: Make store hours accessible and easy to find on the site.
Unique ads: Mobile-specific advertising methods through various display and local cost-per-click campaigns.
Site transition: Mobile-capable website that switches the user interface and screen size to fit tablets/smart phones.
Conversational search terms: Users are now talking to search engines instead of typing. Work this type of strategy into your site or mobile app’s content.
Locality of services: Whether a patient is being discharged from a hospital or is sitting at home looking for a specific product or service, make sure that you are showing up in your local market for what they are searching for. Example: “Where can I purchase a bath bench for my mother near Boston?” Using local marketing and advertising tools through search networks will allow you to be visible for this service and product.
Traditional storefront with e-commerce capabilities
These are businesses that are servicing their customers out of a physical location but also have the capabilities to sell products through an e-commerce website solution.
Continuity: Ensure that pricing in your store matches pricing online. You can even offer special discounts for folks to order online or order in your store. Options such as in-store pickup for a special lower price are a great way to get a customer into your location and work the up-, cross- and related-product sells.
Simplicity: The store is simple and easy to navigate and, most importantly, extremely streamlined when it comes to finding a product, adding it to the cart and checking out.
Integrate: Promote your in-store services via your e-commerce website and vice versa.
Tell us where you are: If you have more than one physical location, list a store locator so that users can see which location is closest. Additionally, if you have specific locations that offer unique services, list those, as well.
Push and pull: Use the website to promote products only at in-store locations through social media. You can use a “bring in this Facebook post” to receive $5 off on a specific product.
GPS notifications: Offer push-notification discounts in your location through your e-commerce website. For example, if someone is walking in your incontinence section, you can send them a promotional discount on briefs.
Mobile-only promotions: Send them mobile coupons to their phone that they must redeem at the storefront.
Be where your customer is/will be in the future: Create a mobile app/mobile storefront that is easily accessible and offers the latest services and products that you offer.
Simple is sexy: Make sure that your mobile e-commerce storefront is user friendly and simple to navigate. Finding a product, adding it to the cart, and checking out should be streamlined and fast.
Whether you are operating just a physical location or you are just an e-commerce storefront, there are some key points that I want to leave you with that will help make 2014 successful. First, content is king. Original content may take months to pay off, but start now as you will benefit from its results down the road. Secondly, mobile is here to stay, so you better be ready to play. Make sure you can integrate mobile into every aspect of your business that makes sense, not only for you, but also for the needs of your customers. Make mobile clean, fast and functional. Lastly, the most important piece of advice I can give is that there is no difference between your brick brand and your online brand. They are the same and should be portrayed the same to the customer. Brand continuity through online, mobile, social and traditional means will lead to more referrals, increased customer lifecycles and larger sales in 2014.
Justin Racine is the marketing & ecommerce manager at Geriatric Medical in Woburn, Mass. You can reach him at 781-305-3144.