It’s been two years since the project began and another year to move thousands of customers to a new ecommerce platform, but the end is now in sight for Cardinal Health Inc.
Cardinal Health, a Dublin, Ohio-based distributor of medical and pharmacy supplies to nearly 85% of the nation’s approximately 6,000 hospitals, 26,000 pharmacies, 10,000 specialty physician offices and clinics, and 6,700 laboratories, has now migrated nearly all of its 40,000 digital customers to Cardinal Health Market, its new ecommerce platform.
The new platform, launched on WebSphere technology from HCL Technologies, which acquired the ecommerce technology and related products from IBM Corp. in December, replaces a pair of older and separate B2B ecommerce log-in portals operating on outdated legacy systems, says Cardinal Health director of ecommerce, medical products and services Matt Wingham. (HCL has since renamed WebSphere as HCL Commerce.)
“We’ve been doing a wave of migration but now we are at the tail end,” he says.
Although the company won’t break out B2B ecommerce sales, Cardinal Health runs a sprawling medical and pharmaceutical supplies distribution business that generates annual sales of $137.0 billion annually and operates in 45 countries. A new ecommerce platform was needed in part to keep up with key competitors such as McKesson Corp., Medline Industries Inc. and others, the company says.
Customers also wanted easier ways to research and find products, Wingham says. “We had to make sure we nailed the customer experience,” he says. Over two years, Cardinal Health spent considerable time and resources rebuilding its website taxonomy that supports 300,000 products, the company says. In addition to a new search engine using updated Solr technology, the new platform also uses Adobe 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. Solr is an open-source search platform that is written in Java.
Cardinal Health Market also features updated images and deeper product content, Wingham says. With the new platform in place and nearly all of its digital customers migrated over, Cardinal Health Market features more self-service features, the company says.
For example, better search and better access to deeper product information helps companies that purchase big, recurring orders, especially through electronic data interchange, find inventory more quickly.
“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 ecommerce site, he says.
New self-service tools on Cardinal Health Market now help medical and pharmaceutical purchasing managers quickly find products by unique identification number. But if a particular product is temporarily out of stock, new website features now inform purchasing managers when the product will be back in stock. The site will also let buyers know if there are replacement products that may be used as a substitute, or if another Cardinal Health distribution center has the requested product in stock along with fulfillment and shipping capability.
“We are building out self-service and the supply chain,” Wingham says.
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