Select the right products

Monday, April 25, 2011

A. While there are many things involved in setting up an e-commerce site, such as configuring your merchant account to handle online transactions and selecting a technology platform, the most important decision is selecting the right products to sell. While you can hire someone to manage everything else, you should choose the products. Think of your site as a chance to expand your showroom. This means featuring products like lift chairs and mobility--especially colors or models that may not sell enough to justify stocking but that can easily be ordered. You can also feature convenient, high-ticket items that patients may not know about, such as convertible wheelchairs, portable oxygen concentrators and knee walkers. While products like these cannot be ordered online if the customer wants to use insurance, you can direct them to call you or come in to your store. 

Another idea is to show frequently-ordered consumables and supplies such as incontinence products, as this will allow your customers to place renewal orders without calling. Be sure to design these sections properly to show related products (e.g. barrier creams and wipes) and good/better/best choices so that you can up-sell and cross-sell. You can also include some last-minute order add-ons such as elastic shoelaces and sock aids. 

It is important to resist the urge to put every product you carry online, as you will have to maintain every product you put on your site. This means changing prices, replacing pictures and editing specifications every time costs go up or products change. While this may not be a lot of work for one product, doing it for a few thousand products is a full-time job.

Also remember that manufacturers have become much more savvy about supporting e-commerce, so be sure to ask your sales rep about supplying you with things like high-resolution images and product feeds.

Jonathan Gordon is president of the Coribus Group. Reach him at 917-538-5665 or