Across the life sciences industry, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies are faced with rapidly changing business models at a time when healthcare reform is dramatically reducing reimbursements. Margins are eroding, forcing companies to find new go-to-market strategies that improve the customer experience and enhance the company brand while reducing the cost to serve across a broad array of customer channels.
Life sciences companies must continue the evolution of customer service that has been primarily focused on shared service call centers since the early 2000s. They are recognizing the need for a faster, more responsive, and less costly model that enables a strategic use of multiple channels and a transparent view of customer engagement across those channels.
Consequently, these organizations are looking at a digital business-to-business (B2B) commerce model as the answer – in fact, for most, it’s not only the answer, but it’s a necessity. Whether a customer is a wholesaler, hospital, clinic, or healthcare practitioner, digital B2B commerce will simplify the process and greatly enhance the customer experience while creating a consistent view of a company’s products and brands.
For instance, a comprehensive digital strategy will help companies standardize their product content views so their customers have a consistent interaction with their products, regardless of the channel. And self-service capabilities will allow customers to interact with an organization at their convenience. In addition, the technology behind these capabilities will provide insights into the customers, their buying behavior, and the various channels that they leverage. At the same time, the buying experience of customers is simplified by intelligent recommendations on other products they may find interesting.
Early adopters are evolving quickly to a new business model
Organizations target many different market segments and leverage a wide array of strategies to market their products. These strategies include direct and indirect sales models across all channels as well as agreements on delivery and customer service levels. A company’s ability to execute on these strategies will provide a significant competitive advantage given their ability to enable an easy and compelling customer experience at a cost per transaction that is as much as 90% less expensive than traditional models.
Further, the early adopters are expanding their channel offerings to leverage a more flexible and iterative approach. These organizations have greater visibility into their customers across all channels than previously available and, typically this is much more than what their competitors can leverage. They are gaining a competitive advantage based on the ability to deeply understand buying preferences, buying habits, channel access, the preferred channels of each customer, transaction time, order volumes, and many more valuable metrics.
Conversely, for companies in North America, the benefits may not be as obvious as in other markets given the use of the “Big Three” pharmaceutical wholesalers. For these companies, the primary interaction is an electronic data interface (EDI) message that is focused on supply and demand, with little emphasis on a personalized interaction with a customer. These transactions are narrow in their focus and they do not address areas such as standardizing product content, improving the user experience, and increasing top-line revenue through cross- and up-sell opportunities.
The benefits of a digital multichannel approach
When adopting a digital B2B commerce strategy, organizations can expect a wide array of benefits, including:
Reduced transaction costs – A typical call center transaction could cost anywhere from US$10 to US$15. An online commerce solution can dramatically reduce that cost to under US$2.
An improved buyer’s experience: An online commerce solution can make it easier for customers to interact with their suppliers, as they can make purchases and conduct business when it’s convenient for them via 24/7 self-service.
Increased leverage of mobile devices – Buyers can access B2B commerce applications from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone for easier, more convenient transactions, which increases usability and enables higher volume sales.
A unified buying experience: A multichannel approach ensures a unified and consistent product representation that can enhance the brand and purchasing experience across a company’s entire product portfolio.
Enhanced customer insights: Companies gain deeper insights into customers through a comprehensive view of the buyer and their transactions. This provides them with more opportunities to cross- and up-sell products while simultaneously making it easier for customers to buy from them.
Life sciences companies are leveraging digital strategies to transform legacy business models by improving the customer experience, providing a consistent view of their products, and driving customers to lower-cost transaction models like Web self-service. Product content is rationalized to ensure a consistent experience that highlights the value and efficacy of products while also mitigating off-label marketing risk by ensuring positioning for clinically approved therapeutic protocols.
In the end, it’s a win for both life sciences companies and their customers.