Medelita LLC prides itself on its ability to use technology and innovation to offer something attractive to health care professionals: the ability to shop online for physicians’ coats, scrubs and other garments and accessories that are made to look stylish and tailored to fit.
The company, founded in 2008 by a physician assistant who saw a need for nicer outfits worn by medical professionals, started selling online that year to individuals who shopped on Medelita’s home-grown e-commerce site at Medelita.com. But when it began handling bulk orders online from hospitals and groups of health care institutions, it realized that its e-commerce site was no longer up to the job.
“The site would just freeze,” recalls chief marketing officer Dan Stepchew, who also oversees Medelita’s technology operations. “We’d have customers placing large orders online who would get frustrated, so they would just call in their order instead.”
One of the main problems, he adds, is that as customers placed large orders into the online shopping cart, it would take too long to load all the product data. The original site was built in-house on DigiShop shopping cart software, which is no longer available.
Medelita’s prescription for fixing its online problems was to relaunch its site on new e-commerce software with multiple features. Last year it chose Magento Community Edition, a free open-source software from the eBay Enterprise division of eBay Inc., for its ability to offer a broader range of e-commerce features and to handle a large number of simultaneous orders as well as large individual orders, Stepchew says. Medelita worked with Sellry, a web design and development firm certified by Magento. Open-source software provides web developers with the core software code for customizing the software. (Magento also sells an Enterprise Edition, which comes with more built-in features and is intended for large e-commerce sites. The annual fee for the Enterprise Edition starts at just over $15,000.)
Stepchew says Medelita has found Magento Community to be effective at handling the needs of its e-commerce site, though with some add-ons to provide the functionality that customers need. For example, Medelita and Sellry deployed the Advanced Product Options plug-in so that Medelita.com could present large numbers of product listings personalized to individual buyers in site search results and navigation. Along with other Magento plug-ins, Advanced Product Options is available through the Magento Connect section of MagentoCommerce.com, where it’s listed for $249.
“Now we can load products and images into a shopping cart” without the site freezing up, Stepchew says. The overall improvements in how customers can now shop on the Medelita.com for either small or bulk orders has resulted in a sharp increase in online orders and total company revenue, he adds.
Another feature enables buyers to shop online for medical apparel outfits, choose embroidery styles for personal names and company logos, then order garments to try on at home before returning them to for the chosen embroidery treatment.
Medelita is also using the Magento software to build what Stepchew calls separate private online stores for major customers, who can arrange for displays of merchandise and pricing tailored to each client’s contract terms.
The privately held company—founded by licensed physician’s assistant Lara Francisco, and headed by her husband, CEO Joseph Francisco—doesn’t release sales figures. But Stepchew says it’s on course to double sales this year over 2014, as total annual sales get closer to $10 million. The growth surge is occurring despite the fact that Medelita this year discontinued the use of its team of 12 sales reps, whom have “found other opportunities” as Medelita has transformed into handling nearly all sales online, Stepchew says.
Among Medelita’s next technology moves are to consider new systems for order management and enterprise resource planning software to better handle its growth, Stepchew adds.
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