Importance of eCommerce in the Healthcare Industry – There is hardly any sector or industry which has not been positively affected by the phenomenal rise of eCommerce.
It further grew substantially due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the physical workplaces and offices remaining closed.
Another industry that adopted eCommerce quite well due to the health pandemic has ironically been the healthcare industry.
The healthcare eCommerce market refers to the sales and purchase of healthcare products and services using the internet. It is segmented by type and application.
By type, it is divided into drugs and medical devices and by application into telemedicine, caregiving services and medical consultation.
The global healthcare eCommerce market was at $352.23 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach a whopping $643.07 billion in 2025. This ever-growing importance of eCommerce in the healthcare industry can be encapsulated as below:
A synonym of eCommerce can very much be ‘convenience’. Among various reasons why people shop online, convenience tops the chart.
In healthcare too, convenience is among the top reasons as from the comfort of your homes or offices, you can make the purchases.
And unlike offline shopping, if you forget to order something, you do not have to go back to the store. Just press a few keys and you are sorted.
Various healthcare items are bulky such as the monthly supply of kids’ and adults’ diapers, infant milk feeds, and such.
eCommerce is super convenient for such products. Just order and a courier mail service can deliver to your doorstep. For the elderly staying alone, eCommerce is like a boon.
Saving in time and cost
By ordering online medicine, a lot of time can be saved by cutting down on the trips to the healthcare provider, especially for regular supplies.
Online healthcare services can also cut downtime by connecting patients with healthcare professionals across the world.
There is cost-saving too as online healthcare retailers generally charge lower compared to traditional retailers, due to their savings on fixed costs.
Most of the time, lucrative discounts and special deals are also offered by online stores.
Wide range of products
Customers who shop online for healthcare products or services get access to a wider range of products from numerous suppliers.
They can compare from among various sites and make an informed purchase decision, resulting in cost and time savings as well.
Online feedback and review offered by other consumers on the same or similar products or services, also help the consumer further in making better choices.
Efficiency and Access
Another importance of eCommerce in the healthcare industry is that a lot of strain on professionals and resources are reduced when non-emergency cases are diverted to and handled by online services. This results in better efficiency of the entire healthcare system.
Overall access to healthcare has also increased due to eCommerce.
A more and more rural population can easily connect to and benefit from online medical services.
Services such as live chats, mobile apps help to connect patients with healthcare professionals anywhere in the world.
The benefits of eCommerce in the healthcare industry are numerous but there are also certain challenges:
Adhering to regulations and cybersecurity laws as mandated by e-retailing laws and regulations, can be challenging to the growth of the healthcare eCommerce industry.
Online companies need to make their cybersecurity infrastructure robust and secure. If it is not done, the sensitive medical information of patients can be at risk.
Quality and site reputation
Due to the intangible nature of eCommerce, the quality of medical supplies cannot be completely ascertained.
So, one needs to be extra careful concerning quality. These issues can be avoided by going through the product specifications carefully and ensuring the products are purchased from trusted vendors.
Reputed sites should be preferably considered compared to relatively unknown sites. Reviews on a site can also be helpful to decide their authenticity.
Refund and replacement policies
Some medical products are expensive and in case of a defective product, the site should refund or replace the product.
So, it is necessary to ensure that the site has a proper refund and replacement policy in place.
Lack of personal touch and trust
Owing to the nature of the eCommerce industry, there is a lack of personal touch and tangibility.
One of the things which are very important in a doctor-patient relationship is personal rapport and trust. This aspect tends to be missing in eCommerce.
With increasing access to the internet among the young and the old, rising age expectancy, increased consumer spending on healthcare products and the factors discussed above; eCommerce adoption in the healthcare industry is further expected to grow by leaps and bounds.
There are a few challenges as well that the online buyer and the company needs to be aware of and try to rectify. Barring the disadvantages, the future outlook for the eCommerce Healthcare industry is indeed buoyant.
The photograph – https://imgur.com/cEA1b7s
Tim Robinson is Digital Marketing Manager at PACK & SEND, a 25+ years old and respected brand in e-commerce, logistics, and freight delivery solutions. Tim has 20 years of combined experience in sales and marketing. Logistics, D2C, franchising, business planning, and operations management are his core expertise. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.