How e-commerce adoption benefits B2B healthcare providers and device makers
The healthcare and life sciences industry is expanding at an exponential rate. The complexity and regulatory nature of the industry have made it imperative that technology catches up with its pace and offers solutions to meet this expansion. This need is being felt more acutely at the moment with the COVID-19 pandemic on the loose. As the pandemic spreads its poison and puts the B2B healthcare and life sciences e-commerce market into a state of flux, it forces large and small organizations to cope with a range of problems that include difficult purchase decisions, supply chain disruptions, and fulfillment and delivery issues. This calls for a technological solution tailored to suit the B2B healthcare and life sciences industry.
With over 17 years of experience in delivering customized technological solutions including developing e-commerce platforms for B2B clients, we provide B2B e-commerce web application development services for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and so on. Also, our mobile app development services specialize in the designing and development of custom B2B e-commerce apps.
Case Study: Fingent’s solution for our client Bonanza – Streamlining Online Listing and Inventory Management
In this article, we will explore five specific ways in which B2B e-commerce is that solution and how it will transform healthcare and life sciences.
Immediate and lasting impact on the B2B e-commerce market
In the present scenario, especially from a healthcare and life sciences manufacturing and supply perspective, the impact is immediate throughout the entire supply chain. Manufacturing companies are unable to keep up with the demand, and distributors are rushing to create workflows in an attempt to mitigate customer complaints. Distributors are being forced to claw their way to the front of the line to obtain supplies from manufacturers, stock up on products, and take care of their customers.
Healthcare and life sciences organizations typically have disaster preparedness plans, but dealing with such an unprecedented disaster is another ball game altogether. The question has shifted from purchasing to inventory, from buying to stocking. It makes it challenging to find the space to hold extra products that these industries may need and that causes anxiety to all parties within the supply chain.
B2B e-commerce offers irresistible opportunities for purchasers and medical suppliers
B2B e-commerce works largely on a distribution-based model where customers get their supplies from local distributors or dealers. Thus far, e-commerce has been disrupting the offline system of the B2B industry at a slow pace. However, with the spread of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, various industries including healthcare and life sciences are switching to online buying options to prevent human contact. This has resulted in B2B e-commerce experiencing an unprecedented boost in traffic and sales in just a matter of a few weeks.
Read More: Contactless Retail Delivery Software – How Retailers Can Revive Sales While Adhering To Social Distancing Norms
While buyers turn to an online purchase, many suppliers have adapted their strategy to foster online sales, dedicating a certain amount of their budget to digital marketing and communications. The current pandemic is imposing digitization of all B2B businesses that would help to communicate with the buyers and generate sales. Digitization of the supply chain is a crucial aspect of e-commerce because it encourages transparency and shows real-time availability of goods right from the manufacturers to the buyers. This makes it extremely important for suppliers to implement digitization in their supply chain.
The present COVID situation has forced most suppliers to work from home. Those who have already been using digital media are able to manage work remotely. However, others need to think over and plan to reform their business model to adapt to the new era of e-commerce. The pandemic might be temporary, but this trend is not going to be! This is a breakthrough that will continue far into the future. Now is the best time to be innovative, leverage the benefits of the latest digital technology, data analytics, and AI and unlock the potential of digitalization and e-commerce in B2B business. An advanced e-commerce solution built on the latest technology facilitates seamless interactions online across marketing, product discovery, sales, and post-sale service in the B2B sellers’ space.
Read More: E-commerce ERP Software
Five ways B2B e-commerce can be transformative
As B2B e-commerce forges ahead, the healthcare and life sciences industries will prove to be faster adopters than others. They can fully leverage real-time data tracking inventory and logistics between buyers and sellers. For manufacturers and distributors who sell to hospitals and nursing homes, the level of information presented to buyers in the B2B space can depend on the size of the organization or the customer that is doing the transaction. Depending on the frequency of the order, the level of sophistication of information may vary. Shifting to B2B e-commerce will prove to be a much-needed transformation.
Here are five ways that this transformation will be seen:
1. Online Shopping Drives Online Presence
E-commerce is changing the way people and end-users (such as doctors) shop for healthcare products and the way those products reach the hands of customers. Instead of visiting a pharmacy, most customers are turning to the internet to perform the functions of a regular pharmacy. Healthcare and life sciences companies use a business model that features quick delivery to a patient’s door or to hospitals and healthcare centers. Investors see promise in this revolutionary approach to medication fulfillment, demonstrating that the market has confidence in this model despite the shifting healthcare and life sciences landscape.
With more and more people turning to the internet to access products and medical care, the healthcare and life sciences industries have been increasingly concerned with the quality of their online presence. According to an online medical marketplace, 50% of their customers are referred by their primary provider or by hospital staff, and 20% are referred by family or friends. This highlights the need for the healthcare and life sciences industries to increase their online presence and maintain it.
2. Helps explore new possibilities while cutting costs and time
Shifting to an online B2B e-commerce process can help businesses recover 25-30 percent of their investment. Some of the more mature players might even see higher returns of their business through online orders.
Migrating more orders online frees up time for sales reps. They can concentrate on introducing new products and capitalize on opportunities for new business. This allows industry leaders to use their time and ability to explore new channels of business and revenue streams. This can also help expand their client base and move into new markets.
B2B e-commerce enables the healthcare and life sciences companies to see where the business is coming from, where the segments are online and where they are offline. It also gives them the ability to offer variable discounts with certain customers, on certain products, or even just one customer. It will make drug prices more transparent and market-oriented.
Read more: Odoo E-commerce – 5 Reasons to Integrate Your E-commerce Application with Odoo ERP
3. Transforms Logistics Operations
Synchronization of logistic operations is critical for the success of any business. Enterprise customers generally look for reliability, speed, traceability, and convenience in delivery along with effective product returns, and exchange policy of damaged products.
Technology solutions for B2B e-commerce provide orchestration with an application that is to be hosted on an e-commerce website. The open standard in these applications facilitates information exchange that allows real-time visibility for seamless integration across supply chain stakeholders. E-commerce offerings can provide credibility and trust for transactions between companies involved in the supply chain.
4. Enables Customer Personalization
B2B e-commerce enables customer personalization. Enterprise customers want personalized solutions. B2B e-commerce provides a customer portal with content organized around the parameters of their past purchase history and price optimization algorithms that are adjusted on the basis of the relationship. E-commerce offerings are simple, flexible, and convenient. B2B players can use a comprehensive suite of tools that are available to help their customers navigate the site. Certain platforms incorporate live online support to assist with any queries or issues which can improve conversion levels and facilitate buying decisions.
5. Sheer Momentum
Many medical device companies are already selling products online to enterprise customers. The healthcare and life sciences market is ripe for disruption. Medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies will continue to deliver to wholesalers and distributors, but e-commerce allows them to embark on direct-to-patient delivery. Logistics is ready to respond with tailored services for various products. B2B e-commerce is set to propel healthcare and life sciences forward in the extremely near future.
Ultimately, healthcare and life sciences e-commerce will facilitate the redistribution of stakeholders’ offline enterprise transformation and reconstruct all the links of the value chain. Realizing the benefits of B2B e-commerce, many healthcare and life sciences companies are becoming believers.
E-commerce can effectively optimize operating processes, reduce costs, manage resource allocations, and address the increasingly diversified consumer healthcare demands. The healthcare and life sciences companies must understand that due to the conditions of accelerated technology change, it has become critical for enterprises to become more skilled in deciding their future course and be firm in taking action. If you need help with this, we at Fingent are here to help you take that next step. Get in touch with us and just let us know what you need.
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Custom Software Development: What To Do and Not To Do
The “build versus buys” debate in software development seems to have tipped in favor of custom software development as more and more businesses recognize the implications of customization on their growth. With rising competition, it has become imperative for each business to differentiate itself from its competitors in every way and custom software development rests at the core of this differentiation.
That being said, software development has seen its fair share of fails even when it is labeled custom. This makes it extremely important that your project is carefully planned out and well-executed. With many years of experience as custom software developers, we have put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help make your custom software development project a success. This blog will discuss 5 of them. Before that, let’s drive home the reasons why custom software is imperative for businesses.
Custom Software: The Backbone of Business
Custom software fulfills specific business requirements, which are unique to specific businesses. This helps businesses gain a competitive advantage and leverage the software to build processes that define an effective USP. While this in itself is an uppercut to reckon with, let’s have a look at a few more points that will help deliver the knockout punch in favor of custom software development.
- Solution Matches Need: Since custom applications are developed with your specifications in mind, the final solution will effectively address your needs. Therefore, it simplifies the entire business process saving time and effort.
- Minimal training: Tailored features make it very easy to use and require minimal training to get started on the software. When the software is optimized for each department, the interface requirements will be customized to match the needs and skill level of your employees.
- Works with your Business Model: As the custom solution is built around your business model, it will have the user roles and interoperability functions that your departments need to function effectively.
- Unique Code and Enhanced Protection: By developing a unique code that is specific to your software, custom software minimizes external threats and unauthorized access.
- Long Term Cost Benefits: Custom software helps automate several manual processes and thus saves on manpower. It also eliminates the licensing costs that accrue with off-the-shelf solutions.
- Increased Scalability: Custom software developers work on a long-term basis and can easily scale the software according to the growth of the business.
The Dos and Don’ts
There are several key steps involved in creating custom software. It involves a combination of foresight and creativity. Here are a few time-tested Do’s and Don’ts to help avoid the usual pitfalls that have been known to crop up in this process.
Don’t: Do not Ignore Preparation
Clients who are looking for a quick solution for their app requirements generally hire developers who agree to unreasonable deadlines. Under such circumstances, the planning and research step is often ignored and that has a ripple effect on the following stages. Not acquiring the necessary materials from the beginning can leave the company unprepared. This can lead to additional changes and the timeline for your project will have to be pushed back, not to mention escalating the costs involved.
Do: Prepare, Prepare!
The planning stage is crucial because it allows the developer to do a thorough SWOT of the idea. At this stage, some have found it helpful to include sketches or outlines and functionality options of the application. It works best to gather all the necessary information at the earliest stage to ensure your project stays on budget. This allows the project to stay on schedule.
2. Ensure its Customization
Don’t: Create for Yourself
You must have heard of the False Consensus Effect, where one thinks that others also think the same way he/she thinks. This can happen while designing the app. It is easy to put our ideas into a design and expect others to like it just because we liked it. That works contrary to the thought of customization.
Do: Keep it User-Centered
Consider carefully what the general user would appreciate. Developers must stick to the requirements drawn up at the planning stage while continuing to give their inputs on the initial ideas. Take pride in creating a user-centered app.
3. Technical Feasibility and Prototype
Don’t: Allow Misunderstandings
Misunderstanding the business’ requirements, miscommunication about the platform and the format can lead to major issues in creating the app.
Do: Keep Lines of Communication Open
Actively communicate with the team about the technical requirements and provide a timeline for building the prototype. It is difficult to visualize what an app would look like and how it will function unless there is a prototype. Ensure that you communicate frequently with management and obtain feedback at every stage of the development.
4. Design and Development
Don’t: Ignore Key Requirements
Design and development are the stages that take the most amount of time. Ignoring key requirements might lead developers to spend valuable time coding for a bad end-product. Functionality demands might be misread which leads to a loss of time and missed deadlines.
Do: Understand the Needs
It is vital to understand the UI/UX needs of the business to gain clarity and minimize work. The app will go through a lot of different changes. When changes are required, ensure that the development team and management are on the same page. Once decisions are made, stick to them.
5. QA Testing
Don’t: Be Negligent
The testing team should not be negligent towards post-development issues such as bugs, form functionalities, and security licenses. This could negatively impact the launch of the application. It could either be delayed or the app might face a post-launch backlash. Ensure that the app is not launched until all aspects have been tested and are up to the standards required.
Do: A thorough QA Test
App testing is a tedious job, but it is an important final stage. Compatibility, interface, security, and performance are some of the factors that should go through a rigorous check. Remember, after this whatever happens with the app will be in full public view.
Achieve Efficiency and Growth with Custom Software Development
Leading companies save time and costs in the long run when they customize their software according to their business model. Whether it’s creating accounting software or an HR solution or a customer-facing application, custom software allows you to choose the features you need for your business and employees. If you want to find business flexibility and growth, custom software is the right answer. It meets the needs of the company while allowing the business to grow without being limited by on-the-shelf software. To find how custom software development can do wonders to your business, call our experts today!
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As the business environment becomes hyper-competitive, more businesses are finding value in mobile and web apps to boost customer engagement. Apps enable the marketer to deliver a solid mobile presence, with customized interfaces geared specifically to provide customers with the best possible experience. Apps streamline the customer’s buying process, automate many routine tasks, and enable new possibilities, to drive engagement better.
Catering to the Growing Customer Preferences
More and more marketers now roll out customer facing apps, to remain engaged with their customers always, enabling customers to buy from anywhere, and at any time.
Any debate on whether today’s businesses require customer facing apps is settled by the fact 2.6 billion people across the globe now have high-powered mobile devices within their arm’s reach, at all times. Black Friday sales through mobile devices crossed the One billion dollar mark in 2016, indicating the preference of online shoppers to use their mobile devices for the buying process.
A good success story exemplifying the growing customer preference is Domino’s Pizza. The pizza giant’s new mobile app for customers to order delivery or in-store pickup of their food in the UK resulted in increase of e-commerce sales by 24.4%, and 52% of online coming in through mobile devices. The app has been downloaded more than 10 million times. Many customers prefer using the app rather than go through the painstaking process of calling up the store.
Leveraging the Power of Push and Pull Notification
As the adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” When a customer downloads an app, it remains on the phone, strengthening brand recognition. Regular visibility and interactions between the brand and the customer boost trust, so essential for transactions to take place.
A big advantage of the app is the ability to send push and in-app notifications to users. Such notifications, served virtually on a captive audience, influence the customer and deliver high success rates, as long as the notifications result in relevant and valuable content. The more the audience listens to the brand, the more they are likely to respond to marketing offers and chose the brand offerings when in need.
Push and in-app notifications are invaluable to inform users, especially younger demographics, of new products and offers. Most marketers use these options to reach out to customers proactively, with personalized offers. The best practice is to serve personalized recommendations based on factors such as most recent purchase, or the location of the user, offering direct value to users and warming them to the app experience. Generic push notifications are widely regarded as the junk mail of the mobile world, and may just push the user to uninstall the app.
Push notifications are also a great tool to counter cart abandonment. Sending instant push and in-app messaging, when the customer abandons the cart, enticing them with added offers, may be instrumental in changing their mind, and increase the likelihood of immediate conversion.
In-app messaging is proven to increase engagement by 26%. About 65% of users return to the app within a month, if push notifications are enabled.
Leverage Location-based Content
Beacon-based location marketing is now increasingly becoming attractive as a great way to boost customer engagement on mobile devices.
Smart marketers leverage beacon and geofencing technology to send location specific, contextual, and timely data-driven content to customers. They use beacons to push location-based offers and promotions, promote loyalty programs, and facilitate mobile-based proximity payments. Customers prefer such engagement, as evident from a survey by Aimia and Columbia Business School, where 69% of them agreed to share location data to receive location-based discounts.
The 2016 Coachella music and arts festival was path-breaking in the sense it sends out location-based notifications about artists and vendors to attendees. It also introduced a “Surprise and Delight” rewards program, rewarding attendees who synced their American Express Cards to the event’s iOS app. The event also provided beacon enabled mobile payments to attendees, doing away with the need for a physical wallet.
Pew Research Center estimates nine out of ten users in the United States enabling location services on their mobile phones.
Gamifying and Incentivizing the Experience
Promoting mobile-based loyalty programs increase customer engagement and bridge the gap between a brand’s online and physical presence. People love incentives, and rewards offer a good reason for them to come back to the app.
Apps make it easier to administer loyalty programs and deliver the associated rewards. The core of any loyalty program is customers getting reward points for every interaction with the brand. When customers see, their points adding up, they come to shop again. When such rewards are combined with gamification or points for any action done through the app, engagement is sure to increase manifold.
Starbucks is probably the most well-known brand having perfected the art of offering big rewards exclusively to app customers. The ‘My Starbucks’ rewards program allows customers to use the app to make pre-orders, custom orders, receive free upgrades and special discounts, based on their loyalty status. Enabling in-app payment speeds up the transaction, and increase convenience.
Leveraging the Power of Analytics
The spin off benefit of customers using apps is gaining valuable data for analytics. Structuring the app engagement, the right way delivers a ton of analytics on how users interact with the app.
App based engagement and transactions emit data, which subject to analytics, shed invaluable light on understanding the customer better. Such data can also be the basis for business and strategic decisions, as in how to position the product, adopt marketing pitches with greater success rate, and more.
However, analytics is still underestimated and underutilized to enrich the customer experience. Smart brands now leverage real time analytics to enrich the customer’s buying experience. One possibility in this front is helping customers get additional live information about the products they browse or short list for purchase. An associated possibility is gathering interesting and offbeat information associated with the project, such as a list of celebrities using the same product, showing some fun facts associated with the project, and more. Mobile and web apps make it considerably easier to deliver such information to the customer, in a seamless and non-intrusive way.
Another underestimated potential is leveraging the big data generated by apps to collaborate with other popular platforms. A good trendsetter in this front is Shazam, the leading music discovery app. Shazam for Brands’ leverages accumulated user data and brand advertisements to identify the best artist and musical genres for brands and create specific and customized ad units to drive customer engagement.
Deep Linking to In-App Content
The ever-prevalent social networks allow marketers to share their content and gain an even larger audience. Apps offer an additional and more robust option in this direction. Allowing users share their experiences inside the app increases the popularity of the app, and lead to more users downloading it, delivering multiplier effects.
Deep linking, to content within an app, makes it possible to share in-app content easily. The spin off benefit is keeping existing customers engaged within the app, improving retention rates and enhancing the user experience.
A good benchmark to emulate is the Nike+ Run Club app, which allows sharing the in-app content to social media platforms.
With marketing now a high-stakes game, intuitively designed mobile and web apps become a valuable source of competitive advantage. Marketers who identify their customer’s path to engagement and purchasing, and use the app to optimize the journey comes out on top.
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Can you imagine a day in your life without using any software applications? Yes, that would mean the apps in your phone too, like the calling, messaging, gaming or calendar apps! It will be tough, particularly in this era of technological advancement, when we talk of securely using devices in the Internet of Things, right?! Does it end there? Definitely no, because apart from individual needs, a lot of business-to-business interaction today happens via software applications. A few minutes of downtime in these web applications would bring the global businesses to a halt.
Those myriad overseas businesses, companies outsourcing projects, business partners around the globe, everyone use software applications to communicate, interact, exchange data and accomplish tasks. From simple transferring of funds into bank accounts to deploying global websites updating live pricing information (like e-commerce sites), the adoption of web applications in businesses is very huge. The advent of faster internet, new technologies, connected devices and powerful browsers, have made people depend on web applications and software more than ever.
Ever wondered what are the processes behind developing such smart web applications, which make our day-to-day tasks simply a piece of cake? What ‘behind the screen’ efforts make a perfect Application? Let’s go through these essential phases in the lifecycle of web application development.
The Web Application Architecture
This is the skeleton/ blueprint of your application, giving the overview of what it does, how it does it, who it is for, and the relation between its entities. The most widely used application architecture is three-tier architecture and has 3 tiers, viz., Presentation (User Services), Domain Logic (Business Services) and Data Storage (Data Services).
- Presentation tier: the gateway through which customers interact with the application.
- Domain Logic tier: The tier ranges from web scripting to server side programming, allowing users to do complex actions via a web interface.
- Data Storage tier: Stores, retrieves and updates information at a high level. Few data storage and retrieval devices are file systems, databases and writeable media.
Keeping these tiers in mind, following are the guidelines developers should follow to create a website application:
The feasible project: Choose the right project with respect to the resources, skill-set, publishing capabilities, and budget available.
Planning: Make a wireframe to plan the design of the application you are going to create. The key to a good application is, 50% planning and 50% coding. A properly planned wireframe helps you to envision the app before it’s being built and helps to avoid potential roadblocks. That said, wireframes are just a general structure and layout, and not detailed masterpiece works of art. Use the wireframes to further plan your page layouts and core components in it. But don’t waste time redrawing the components; after all it’s just a depiction of what you are going to create.
Draw out the planned design: Using the good old pen and paper, as opposed to software tools to draw out the ideas in your head actually help put in your raw creative input. It enables you to arrive at better designs in much less time. And you can perfectly translate it into designs.
Forecasting the goals, nature and the direction in which the app development should progress: This is the phase where teams associated with the project, developers, testers, BAs and management get together to discuss the goals that must be achieved through the application. There shall be a clear documentation of what the Application will achieve.
Devising the Plan: How will the application be built? What scripting language should be used, what all features to be included and how long should the development of decided features take? The focus here will be on the Project plan, wherein the timeframe for different tasks and the functional specification which depicts the functionality and flow of the app in detail will be decided.
Development: Once the foundation (project plan and functional specs) are set, the developers can then start coding, testing and publishing. There shall be proper documentation of how the development will progress, and what entities, data variables, and coding procedures will be used throughout the project.
Testing for stability: The phase will test the application for bugs, errors, stability, quality and purpose. There are different approaches for testing, for instance, testing side-by-side with the development is called Test-driven Development.
Staging: is the phase where the release candidate is assembled, tested and reviewed in a website environment similar to the production environment (actual hardware and software in which the application will be used), before moving it to production. This is where the final testing will be performed, adding no new features.
Production: This is the final version of the application presented to the end users. This version of the website application won’t change until its next update is ready after proving to be stable in the staging environment.
Security: Know, design, develop and deploy software with secure features. Many software security vulnerabilities are not coding issues, but are design issues- “Lessons Learned from Five Years of Building More Secure Software”. Security is as crucial as the usability, performance, reliability, or scalability of the application.
Support scheme: Providing support for your application is equally important. Give your clients the ability to contact you, for instance, define procedure call in case of emergencies like application failures, mishaps, or downtime. Ticket tracking system, where requests are identified by unique codes, is a good example of support scheme.
A plenty of smart tools available today help by automating several aspects of website application development mentioned above, making the job much easier than it was before. So, there you have the tools and the wireframe to plan, design and develop your next web application. If you need further help in planning or developing your next software application, be it a website or mobile app, our software experts can help!