The pharmaceutical and medical supplies distributor expands product information and emphasizes its own brands as it consolidates multiple e-commerce websites.

Cardinal Health Inc. wants to be more than a distributor of medical supplies. As the medical supply arm of the $130 billion pharmaceutical and medical supplies company expands its branded product lines, it plans to upgrade the customer experience and make it easier to find products and associated details.

A three-year process is under way and a single medical products website, at CardinalHealth.com, will combine two existing online portals to give customers more direct access to all of its products, says Matt Wingham, director of e-commerce, medical products and services.

Matt Wingham_CardinalHealth

Matt Wingham, director of e-commerce, medical products and services, Cardinal Health

“We want to be less reliant on our distribution business and focus on our branded products,” Wingham says. “We are trying to become more of a products company, products we sell and source.”

Branded lines include surgical gloves, lab jackets and coats, isolation gowns, and patient recovery and monitoring products.

advertisement

The medical business of Cardinal Health accounts for about 10% of overall annual revenue Wingham says. And while the medical business conducts the majority of their electronic transactions via EDI, there’s a desire among its hospital, surgery center and medical office customers to get more medical supplies information online.

“EDI is the traditional way customers place orders and is for the majority of our customers today,” Wingham says. “Most customers who use EDI still log into our website and research products. That’s our chance to engage with them and help them find the right products, to show how we can solve their need.” More than 90% of Cardinal Health orders are electronic, counting EDI, and to date only a small percentage of orders are placed on the e-commerce site, he says.

But customers haven’t had all the online tools they want, Wingham says. “Our current e-commerce experiences do not fully meet our customers’ needs and products are hard to find. Our customer wants to use the site to search, find and purchase products.”

Cardinal Health’s new website, slated to launch sometime in the next few weeks, will serve up “better product information and enable ordering through an efficient shopping cart and checkout experience,” Wingham says. That’s because hospital-based customers, for example, could use the site to search for products and then alert their materials management department to place the order, based on existing purchasing agreements and contracts, he says. “We’re not trying to influence the way they purchase,” he notes. Instead, the goal is to provide information on branded products as well as those made by other manufacturers.

“Our strategy is to present products in their best light by investing in product content, and to be there when the customer wants to search,” Wingham says.

advertisement

Wingham joined Cardinal Health three years ago with a digital marketing agency background. At Cardinal, he was charged with building a team to help market and merchandise products and launch a new website. “We’ve been able to build a talented team of internal and external resources passionate about helping customers,” he says. The new site will focus on improving the product experience and include cart and checkout capabilities and will combine individual sites targeting acute care (hospitals), surgery centers and laboratories.

The new e-commerce site will span all three healthcare categories and his team is tailoring product listings by customer segment and personalizing the online buying experience, Wingham says. It also will be responsive, automatically rendering properly on any size device. A select group of customers has offered feedback on the new site and are testing it along the way.

Wingham declined to offer specifics, but notes Cardinal Health has made a “substantial investment in the technology and people to support the new site.”

On the technology side, Cardinal Health is working with several key vendors, including IBM Corp. for its WebSphere Commerce e-commerce platform; Adobe Systems Inc. for the customer-facing side, personalization and analytics; and, for systems integration, a combination of internal technology staff and consulting firms SapientRazorfish and Accenture.

The new website aims to complement the efforts of about 1,600 Cardinal sales reps on the medical supplies side, using analytics to provide them more and better information on what customers want to know about products, Wingham says.

advertisement

Cardinal Health’s customers have growing expectations of performance from B2B e-commerce sites similar to the retail sites they also shop on for everyday items like shoes and apparel, Wingham says. But companies like Cardinal Health have greater responsibilities in terms of access to products needed in healthcare, he adds. “Our approach is: If we make it difficult for customers to find products, we are negatively influencing the quality of care. Shoes and apparel are important, but we need make it easy to buy from us. We are passionate about providing a great experience.”

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes DigitalCommerce360.com, Internet Retailer and Internet Health Management. Follow Bill Briggs, senior editor, on Twitter @BBriggsB2B.

 Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new B2BecNews content is published.

Favorite