Save a dime, order online

Monday, June 30, 2008

ANAHEIM, Calif.--Another HME manufacturer has joined the e-commerce era. In May, MK Battery announced that providers can now order its products online 24/7 and have them shipped to their store.

“Some people prefer doing it this way,” said Wayne Merdinger, MK’s director of marketing. “It has become a mainstream type vehicle for people shopping at home, and as they’ve become more comfortable, they look to do the same thing in the workplace.”

While many providers still prefer to fax in their orders, more and more have begun to realize the efficiencies offered by ordering over the Internet, say industry manufacturers.

For example, Invacare now processes about 50% of all its orders electronically, said Chris Yessayan, vice president and general manager of Invacare’s Services Business Group.

“People have this perception that it is faster to fax it in. but the reality is you don’t know until it is too late if there is a mistake,” Yessayan said. “If you fax it to me, I can try to call you back, but if you are not available how long do I wait before I place the order? So the order gets delayed going into the system or it goes in incorrectly. These are hidden costs that people don’t think about when the look at just the time it takes to write out a piece of paper.”

With MK Battery’s online ordering system, providers receive immediate e-mail order confirmation, track shipments/deliveries and view ordering history online.

With competitive bidding, the general squeeze on reimbursement, rising fuel and raw material prices, being efficient has never been more important.

Ordering electronically allows providers to receive the right product the first time, whether it’s a walker or a custom power wheelchair, and that makes the supply chain more efficient for providers and vendors, say industry watchers.

“We’re trying to get people to think about different ways of looking at their business,” Yessayan said. “You have to look at automating, making as many things as possible electronic and taking out redundancies.”