Henry Schein, the world’s largest provider of healthcare products to office-based medical practitioners, recognized its customers’ growing preference to transact online early on with its launch of e-commerce in 1996. The distributor, which reported $11.6 billion in 2016 sales, in July relaunched its B2B e-commerce site for Henry Schein Medical, one of what are now five e-commerce sites for the company. Vice president of digital technology Anoop Kulshreshtha, who will speak at the fall 2017 B2B E-Commerce Executive Seminar in New York, hosted by B2BecNews, says online growth in 2017 is in the high single digits.
Kulshreshtha, vice president of digital technology at Henry Schein Inc., a multibillion dollar provider of products and office management services to healthcare practitioners, will discuss the biggest gains and some of the biggest obstacles in moving more of its business online at the Fall 2017 B2B E-Commerce Executive Seminar in New York. Here, he previews highlights of that journey in a Q&A discussion with B2BecNews.
Responsible for globally-deployed e-commerce platforms, business intelligence, sales and marketing, mobile technology, master data management and creative systems, Kulshreshtha joined Henry Schein in his current role in January 2017. Previously he was vice president, digital technology at Barneys New York, where he led the planning and implementation of the retailer’s integrated web and mobile strategy. He also was director, e-commerce and web development at The Vitamin Shoppe and has held roles in e-commerce technology and web development at New York & Company and technology consulting firm Mind Tree.
After its online launch in 1996, Henry Schein’s venture into B2B e-commerce soon gained traction Kulshreshtha notes. By 2001, he says, it was already on its second-generation e-commerce site.
Q: What led to the Henry Schein’s decision to expand online?
AK: Although we play in a B2B space, our customers also live in a B2C world where their online experiences set high expectations for their B2B experience with companies such as Henry Schein. This insight required us to “up our game” and make enhancements that would improve the customer experience. Also, we needed to address the impact of consolidation in the markets we serve, especially the medical segment. These consolidated, larger customers especially appreciate the operational efficiencies, supply chain controls and supply chain visibility that online provides to help them run a better businesses.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge?
AK: It’s been changing the perception of e-commerce among our sales representatives, which we have largely overcome. Many did not readily see the benefit of online and felt that it would diminish their role as a trusted advisor to their customers. Today, that is not the case. A majority of our sales representatives now embrace the convenience for customers to place orders online, which allows them to be more consultative and attentive to the needs of their customers.
Q: What’s been the biggest gain?
AK: The single biggest gain has been freeing up our sales force to bring consultative services to our customers. Our commitment has always been to help meet all of our customers’ needs to operate efficient practices so they can focus on providing the best possible patient care.
Q: What’s your best advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?
AK: With constantly evolving distribution channel dynamics, B2B commerce providers will do well to build a high quality omni-channel relationship with their customers–go beyond commerce. Current digital B2B providers have the opportunity to simplify and scale their offerings by leveraging cloud technologies.
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