Online retail: Avoid feeling duped

Q. I followed everybody’s advice and built an online store—why is it not working?
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Monday, March 27, 2017

A. The buzz around the HME industry is you must sell retail and you should have an online store so you can sell more items to your patients. While that may be mostly true, I do not think people in this industry are being completely honest with respect to e-commerce, including the investment that is required or the actual return on investment.

Of course, companies that build e-commerce websites think you should have one. Their objective is to sell you what they offer. That is how THEY make money. But, what about you? The question should be, “What do YOU need?”

My philosophy on e-commerce is simple. Why do you want to sell online and how do you plan on integrating that with your overall objectives? How does an e-commerce website relate to your business objective or brand? Use e-commerce as a way to differentiate yourself from your competition by offering better service and a competitive edge.

The real issue is whether you go at it alone or outsource some or all of the functions. What’s the answer? It’s simple. Do you have the ability to commit the staff time, expertise and resources to managing an online store? You need someone to keep the catalog and pricing updated, process and ship orders, and handle customer service. If you are not willing (or cannot) commit those resources, there will be a high failure rate.

After a well-trained sales staff that can walk the patient through the buying decision using your e-commerce store, the back-end operation is the most important function. Either put those assets in place, or work with someone who offers a fully managed solution.

Kamal Haddad is CEO of Health Mobius. Reach him at khaddad@healthmobius.com.