Starting an online business can be quite challenging when it comes to choosing a niche that will be lucrative and stable. However, creating a medical supplies store remains a good idea since the cost of healthcare is increasing over the last 70 years and it’s likely to continue. Also, regardless of the overall economic situation, there’s always enough demand for medical supplies generated by hospitals and treatment consumers.
- Medical equipment market statistics
- Benefits of creating an online medical equipment store
- Steps to building an online medical equipment website
- Main features for e-commerce medical equipment store
- Best practices for making an online medical equipment store
- How much does It cost to build an online medical equipment website
- Best online medical equipment store examples
Medical equipment market statistics
The medical supply market is developing at a solid pace. The research conducted by Market Research Future states that the market share is expected to reach $132 billion by 2022 with most of the opportunities provided by public and private hospitals.
According to Emergo, the American healthcare market is considered to have the biggest piece of the pie with an estimated market share evaluation of $3 trillion. China and Japan are next on the list, with $574 billion and $469 billion respectively.
Overall, the market to sell medical equipment online is rapidly developing. The pace of growth is impressive – according to Markets and Markets, the growth rate between 2019 and 2021 is growing by 6.8%.
Benefits of creating an online medical equipment store
Stability and rapid growth pace are not the only benefits of running a medical supply business. There are other perks to consider which cannot be provided by a brick and mortar shop.
Most medical supply distributors are limited to a particular location – country, city, or even area. This leads to limited exposure, challenges when it comes to luring in new clients, and fewer opportunities for scaling.
An online store owner doesn’t get impacted by those challenges as much. On the contrary, an online medical equipment store is a strong platform for global expansion. With strong partnership programs, an online medical supply store can expand to different countries and continents creating new niches and revenue streams.
Moderate competition in medical e-commerce supply
E-commerce is one of the few areas where medical equipment demand beats supply to the punch. According to MedGadget, 74% of B2B buyers research medical supplies online. That same source points out that over 30% of shoppers were already getting medical supplies online.
So what do companies in response? To a huge surprise, according to Apruve, it turns out that only 11% of medical supply companies offer online access to users. The competition in the market is surprisingly moderate – there’s plenty of room for new businesses to explore the market.
A possibility to sell 24/7
In the healthcare industry, being timely is often the key since it’s hard to predict when a hospital will need a supply renewal. While a physical store runner will meet a ton of challenges trying to sell 24/7 (limited manpower, higher electricity bills, and many more), an online medical store manager barely has problems to tackle this challenge.
Thanks to new advancements – like chatbots and such – an online store owner will be able to answer the needs of hospitals in the most timely fashion.
E-commerce enables advanced data gathering
Apart from convenience and moderate competition, e-commerce medical stores are very sophisticated as opposed to physical ones when it comes to research and data gathering. Business intelligence software allows detecting little details in a shopper’s behavior that can prove useful – the average time spent on the page, the bounce rates, etc. None of these are possible to get when managing a physical store.
Lower operation costs
Naturally, managing an online store is cheaper than renting an office someplace. There’s no need to hire staff, pay bills or rent. An online medical supply owner can be the company’s single employee for a long while until the business becomes profitable. Most expenses are a choice, not a necessity when it comes to medical e-commerce.
More bulk selling opportunities
It’s hard to find a big B2B buyer when managing a physical store. For an online business, the choice of potential bulk buying clients is broader. For medical supply stores, big B2B purchases are basically a manager’s bread and butter. That’s why having a broader range of bulk selling opportunities is certainly an advantage.
Better visibility with SEO and marketing tools
How do entrepreneurs usually try to increase the exposure of a physical store? By paper ads, flyers, networking at events, etc. For online medical supply stores, there’s a bevy of modern instruments to consider – SEO, social media marketing, different forms of PR, etc. Web advertising is cheaper than a physical one as well, and the manager is not as reliant on a third-party service provider.
Steps to building an online medical equipment website
It’s evident that building an online medical supply store is a safe investment to make. However, the steps to kickstart the process might be unclear to first-time e-commerce managers and experienced entrepreneurs alike. Here’s the complete list of steps required to start an online medical supply business.
Step 1. Determine a business model
There are two options to consider – you maintain your own stock of products or you rely on distributors. The first one is a little more secure (as you carry full responsibility for how sales progress) and independent (no reliance on third parties).
However, renting an inventory space is a huge starting investment to make. If you aren’t yet ready to put that much money into your online business, the on-demand purchase is the best way to go. As soon a shopper orders a medicine, the seller orders from the supplier to fulfill the order. There’s no way that you’ll end up with boxes of drugs no one will ever order due to the lack of demand. For an inexperienced first-time entrepreneur, this option is a better fit as it’s risk-free.
Step 2. Establish legal boundaries in case you’ll have to defend the rights of the pharmacy store in court
Healthcare businesses are forced to comply with FDA requirements. Make sure to check the regulations regarding medical device distribution. If you’re planning to export supplies abroad, for instance, keep in mind that the FDA should be notified about any such action and approve it.
Step 3. Obtain licenses to sell medical supplies
Depending on a country where the online store is based on, there might be specific regulations to comply with. Here are some points you should examine that pertains to the laws of your country.
- Standards for handling drugs and medical storage;
- Shipping and export requirements;
- Your suppliers have to be FDA-licensed as well (if they operate in the US).
If you have a chance, don’t hesitate to consult a legal counselor. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Step 4. Determine the features your e-commerce website should have
Now that you are past potential legal issues, it’s time to map out the future website. This means creating a list of features you are looking for in your future medical supply store. We’ll touch on a few must-haves to include later in the post. Browsing WordPress templates might be a good place to start if you need to understand the structure of a typical online store.
Also, don’t hesitate to use the websites of other companies as sources of inspiration.
Step 5. Choose a programming language for development
The next step is determining which programming language will be used to write the code of your website. C++ is still quite popular among developers though it’s technically complex and difficult to write in.
Step 6. Collect inspiration for your future store design
Creating an online store design is divided into two blocks – User Experience or UX and User Interface or UI. The first one is tied to mapping out the customer’s journey (choosing which actions follow each other, deciding where to place buttons and blocks, etc). User Interface is more creative – it’s about choosing the layout, colors, fonts, etc.
Even if you’re not designing the medical supply store on your own, it might be a good idea to browse Behance, Dribble, or as much as similar websites in your niche to get some inspiration to present to the team.
Step 7. Develop the website
Making your own medical equipment eCommerce website is about writing back-end code. It is a crucial step in the entire process of building an online medical supply store. There are several tracks to follow with this one.
- Use a template. These are fully designed websites that need to be loaded to the hosting site and customized. While templates are cheap and fast to deploy, they are also limited in function and lack creativity. It might be a good idea for a small e-commerce store but not that much so if you plan to put your business on the map as the market leader.
- Hire a team to develop a custom template. It is more expensive than using a template but the costs pay off later in maintenance. Having a reliable team willing to have your back at all times will be helpful when it is time to expand and scale.
Step 8. Marketing
When the website is ready, finding clients is still a challenge to confront. In order to gain presence and exposure, medical supply store managers use marketing tools – SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, guest posting and many more. Be sure to plan out your marketing activities and gradually deploy them to spread the word of your online business.
Main features for e-commerce medical equipment store
When designing an e-commerce medical device store, what should one be looking for? While there is a wide array of features an e-commerce store can implement depending on its budget, there are a few must-haves to include for medical equipment stores in particular.
- B2B portal to let retailers place wholesale orders. It will be helpful for a medical device store manager to have a solution for B2B suppliers where they can place and track bulk orders.
- Advanced data filtering and multi-faceted search. If your online store offers hundreds of items, it’s essential to provide agile search to help customers find their way around the website. Make sure to implement filters – device type, price range, top ticks by reviews, etc.
- Generating custom reports. Seeing that healthcare providers are among your main customers, make sure to provide these big institutions with all the paperwork necessary to make an informed decision.
- Prescription scanning. FDA and other controlling organizations have particularly strict regulations when it comes to handling prescriptions. To make sure that there will be no misuse of your system, implement an advanced process of prescription scanning.
Best practices for making an online medical equipment store
Opening a medical equipment store from scratch is a tough nut to crack. The entire process will be easier if you follow a few tried-and-true practices that are widely used by medical device store managers.
- Buy a franchise. Getting a medical franchise is a rewarding experience for a newbie entrepreneur. While having enough autonomy, you’ll be getting a lot of support from a maternal company – including a common brand, business model, and strategy.
- Conduct thorough market research. Examine the niche before entering it – what companies are present there, what are their business models, the product range, etc. You can use web tools for market research, such as Ahrefs, Similarweb, or Alexa Website rating.
- Build a strong supply chain. That means controlling the shipping of the devices, creating a wide range of suppliers in different areas, and using technology to manage delivery and predicting possible delays.
- Choose between the three most popular business models (drop shipping, affiliate, or white labeling). The first model worth considering is that of drop shipping – delivering supplies directly to the customer’s doorstep. There’s an affiliate business model as well – collecting offers from different brands without a proprietary check-out system. The third strategy a medical store owner can consider is white labeling. Basically, that means purchasing a supply or a device from a manufacturer and rebranding it as if your company made the product.
- Invest in making your website mobile-friendly seeing the rise of mobile commerce. To build an online medical equipment store, it’s important to keep the development of mobile technology in mind. This means creating an eCommerce medical equipment website design using bigger fonts and buttons to aid people with poor eyesight. Perhaps, it’s better to withhold from using videos with sliders since they might not be displayed on less powerful mobile devices.
- Use social media and Google AdWords for successful marketing. Google Adwords is a powerful marketing tool – it allows attracting clients based on particular keywords. You can track the cost per click to keep track of your budget. Social media shouldn’t be neglected either. Facebook advertising might be a solid way but it’s mostly worth betting on B2B social networks like LinkedIn. Starting a blog on social media and sharing industry insights is also a good way to get organic exposure.
How much does It cost to build an online medical equipment website?
At first glance, designing a medical e-commerce store can seem quite expensive. However, there are several variables you can choose from that will affect the final cost of your online medical equipment store.
Simple templates can cost as little as $2,000 to $3,000 total (their functionality, however, will be limited and there’ll be no room for scaling).
Custom websites don’t have a one-size-fits-all cost. The average cost to build an e-commerce medical equipment website with an in-house team can easily go over $100,000.
Is it possible to calculate the cost of online medical supply store development? There are indeed basic development steps and the cost of which can be more or less predicted.
- Starting a medical equipment store strategy. Before any actual website building is done, the entire development is broken down into stages – mapping, prototyping, design, development.
- Design. As soon as the strategy of the website is planned, the layout is created, UX and UI are sketched and prototyped. Finally, the front-end code is written in HTML and CSS that will later be connected to the back-end.
- Back-end development. The next step to create an online medical equipment store is writing back-end code. This stage includes integrating particular e-commerce features (payment gateway, shopping cart, etc) as well.
- Testing. When the code is written, it’s important to run it end-to-end to make sure there are no bugs and the website works as planned. Some companies allow users to detect bugs in their betas – mostly, however, QA testers are hired for this task.
- The website rollout. This means connecting back-end and front-end and uploading the code to the server. Also, if there’s an older version of the website, it’s important to ensure a smooth transition to the new one.
- Maintenance. This stage includes all the mundane tasks to keep the website up and running – content management, fixing “technical debt”, scaling to meet traffic demands, etc. While seemingly insignificant, this stage is extremely important. It’s recommended to have a trusted team of tech professionals who can always jump in and fix possible website issues.
When it comes to using an off-the-shelf e-commerce platform, a top-of-the-line solution will approximately cost $10,000 to $20,000. Add up custom features, design, and maintenance – the cost of a medical store will result in $70,000 to $100,000. However, opting for an outsourced team rather than using in-house developers can greatly reduce the final cost.
Best online medical equipment store examples
When designing an online medical device shop, it’s handy to have examples to rely on. Luckily, there’s no shortage of well-designed online supply stores in the market. Here are some of them.
This website is fairly simple – yet, you can’t deny that it’s extremely well-designed. The main page is concise and informative – there’s info on the product range, customer reviews, and company benefits.
There’s a built-in search system that allows navigating the website easily. Overall, Medmart leaves a nice impression, with a solid combination of modern design and simplicity. Developed by Newizze LLC.
GE Healthcare is one of the leaders in the supply market. It’s no wonder that the company’s website is worth taking a look at. The first thing that catches one’s eye is the advanced system of filters, for instance on its main page, GE Healthcare features top products every week.
The website’s design is a state-of-art work on its own, with a strong sense of respect for white space and an elegant slider. GE Healthcare comes across as classy and trustworthy – that’s extremely important to win big clients over.
Fresenius is another example of how a reputable medical supply store should be done. The German company is a renowned world leader so their website is worth taking points from. What makes it different from previous examples is its wide range of reports and documentation.
Creating industry reports, white papers, etc, and publishing them on the website is a way to gain credibility and trust. Apart from that, the website is well-structured and all the information is divided into blocks. The website navigation is easy – the menu is limited to 5 blocks, there’s a search bar as well.
The website has a simple design but uses drop-down menus that is not very mobile friendly. Why is it still on our top list? Mainly because of the high-quality content. The slider headlines are sharp, short, and catchy, the block text is really fluid – all paragraphs can be read as a whole.
McKesson is a good example of how the navigation of a complex medical online store should be tackled. Instead of cluttering the menu panel with items or drop-downs, designers created three different menu panels.
The future version of McKesson is a complete sitemap which allows browsing through all pages. Also, there’s a search bar to navigate the website – it’s a must-have for such complex online stores as McKesson is.
Developing an eCommerce medical equipment website can be a bulletproof investment for any economic landscape. Obviously, there are issues to tackle – obtaining a license, partnering with suppliers, etc, but still, in the long run, managing a medical device store will pay off.
If you’re looking for a team experienced enough to build an online medical supplies store, Newizze is the right choice. We have a wide range of e-commerce projects under our belt. We can create a website from scratch, from online medical equipment store development to design. Want to see our work for yourself? Take a look at our latest projects!