The medical supplies distributor used customer feedback to help redesign its e-commerce site, and continued to rely on customers’ comments to improve the site after its relaunch.

As a $137 billion distributor of medical and pharmaceutical supplies that’s been around for 39 years, Cardinal Health figures it does a pretty good job of listening to customers. And lately customers have a lot to say about the company’s revamped B2B website, Matt Wingham, director of e-commerce, medical products and services, says.

As big as we are, we were a business at risk if we didn’t do the redesign based on what customers wanted.
Matt Wingham, director of e-commerce, medical products and services
Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health recently completed a three-year process to create a single medical products website, at CardinalHealth.com, that combines two existing online portals to give customers more direct access to all of its products.

Matt Wingham_CardinalHealth

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

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 its electronic transactions via EDI, its hospital, surgery center and medical office customers want more medical supplies information online.

But in order to gauge feedback prior to the redesign, Cardinal Health first developed a set of customer feedback programs. Today those programs are a fixed part of Cardinal Health’s e-commerce program that gives the distributor continuous feedback on what customers like—and don’t like—about the website. Under Wingham’s direction, Cardinal Health set up what its calls “power user groups” comprised of 20 customers from each of its key business segments, including medical and pharmaceutical supplies. Such feedback is critical because of the size of the base Cardinal Health serves.

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For example, buyers told Cardinal Health—which specializes in the distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical products serving more than 100,000 locations and provides medical products to over 75% of hospitals in the U.S.—that its outdated site search wasn’t an effective tool to research and make purchases from an inventory of about 300,000 products. “Our e-commerce experiences did not fully meet our customers’ needs, and products were hard to find,” Wingham says. “Our customer wants to use the site to search, find and purchase products.”

After surveying each focus group on their likes, dislikes and “must-haves” for a better e-commerce site, Cardinal Health web designers and business managers developed a “wish list” that later became part of the specific redesign plan, Wingham says. Topping the list was better site search for easier and more diverse ways to find products.

Cardinal Health’s customers have increasing 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.”

Cardinal Health relaunched its e-commerce site in March. It runs on a WebSphere e-commerce platform from IBM Corp. Cardinal Health also worked with Adobe Systems Inc. for customer-facing features, personalization and analytics. For systems integration, it used a combination of internal technology staff and consulting firms SapientRazorfish and Accenture.

Since the relaunch, Cardinal Health has used customer feedback to further refine site search to let B2B buyers search by product image. Other customer feedback led to improvements in faster shopping cart and checkout capabilities. “As big as we are, we were a business at risk if we didn’t do the redesign based on what customers wanted,” Wingham says.

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Cardinal Health now uses its focus groups to obtain feedback on a monthly basis and do A/B testing to plan and refine website features, Wingham says. “We take their feedback, combine it with what analytics tell us, and match up A with B,” he says.

Cardinal Health, which grew total sales about 5% to about $137.0 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, won’t say much about its e-commerce business performance, including web sales and the return on investment in three website redesigns. But ongoing customer feedback via its user groups and new tools, such as online feedback from OpinionLab, is now a permanent part of Cardinal Health’s e-commerce operation.

“How else will we know if we are meeting the customer’s expectations?” Wingham says.

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