Considering HME E-Commerce? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted on in Growth Strategies

By: Cassi Price, VGM Forbin

With home medical equipment coverage being what it is today, many providers are turning to e-commerce as their solution to make up for lost revenues. However, more often than not, that solution turns out to be impossible or takes much more dedication than they initially thought.

If you’re considering e-commerce for your HME business, first take a look at these suggestions from VGM Forbin.

  1. Know your business.

    Take a look at your business. Can you handle selling, shipping and managing an e-commerce website effectively? Is your staff able to potentially double their customer service efforts? Do you have disposable income set aside to dedicate to marketing your new e-commerce site? Most business owners fail to see that creating an e-commerce solution is just like opening a new branch – it will take more time, more money and more space than you think, and it’s certainly not a “set it up and leave it” solution.

  2. Know your manufacturer limitations.

    Many HME providers know their margins and believe they can list the product at a lower price than they’ve seen elsewhere online. However, before jumping into online sales, research vendor rules established by your manufacturer partners. Many manufacturers place restrictions on listing low prices or sales. If you don’t follow these rules, you’ll risk losing vendor status with the industry’s largest manufacturers.

  3. Know your insurance/HIPAA limitations.

    When working with medical sales and the exchange of patient information, cybersecurity is paramount.  All HME providers working on an e-commerce solution with VGM Forbin are required to have a secure certificate, which allows all data on the website to be encrypted. Another layer of security on these websites is VGUARD, VGM Forbin’s proprietary, intrusion prevention system, which continually guards against new cyber threats.

    In addition to keeping the website content secure, absolutely no order details can be sent via email. All order information must be housed within a closed system on the website, and only approved employees can access the information after they receive an email notification that a purchase has been made. Also, you must be aware of your own state’s regulations on who you can sell to.

  4. Know your software needs.

    The most successful e-commerce websites look simple, but they’re not. It takes a robust e-commerce website solution to deliver the impression of simplicity and streamlined purchasing to the customer. In our experience, one of the most challenging software adjustments for HME providers is completing all details in each of the product pages and keeping the content consistent. A strong e-commerce solution offers the ability to add product descriptions, product teasers, featured products, product specifications, multimedia resources and downloadable PDF manuals for each product.

In today’s highly digital marketspace, e-commerce may look like the obvious solution, but it is not for everyone. There are many ways to engage your customers online without managing a full e-commerce.

If you have questions about how to boost your revenue through an online solution, contact VGM Forbin to discuss your goals and capabilities!