3 Ways Medical Device Brands Can Beat Unauthorized Sellers
When it comes to medical devices, an unauthorized seller can have a big impact on a patient’s health and a brand’s credibility. Jim learned this the hard way, when his aging mother fell and fractured her hip. He felt guilty because he had bought her a portable oxygen concentrator on Amazon a few weeks prior. With his purchase, he aimed to help her regain her active lifestyle, but the plan backfired. could have been avoided if the brand had sold through direct to consumer channels, or if the consumer had been warned that only authorized resellers can be trusted with something as important as health.
Let’s backtrack a few weeks to learn what medical brands can do to avoid this unfortunate situation.
How Consumers Fall into the Unauthorized Seller Trap
Jim researched oxygen concentrator options online. Prices for these devices were all over the board and the product information seemed contradictory. He didn’t trust any of these sites, but he decided to see what was available on Amazon, since he shopped there often. While searching Amazon, he found a reputable brand whose website he’d reviewed on a separate occasion and decided to make the purchase. Thanks to Prime shipping, the portable oxygen concentrator arrived in two days, and his mother was using the device that evening.
Instead of feeling better however, his mother was feeling worse after using the portable oxygen concentrator for a few weeks. Rightfully concerned, he called the manufacturer, who referred him back to their medical equipment supplier and physician, which was no help. At that point, it was clear he was dealing with an unauthorized seller.
Shortly thereafter, Jim got the call at work from his wife that his mother had fallen, and that the ambulance was on its way. He called the manufacturer’s customer service line again, but he was unable to get to the root of the problem.
The above scenario is common for manufacturers in the COPD, respiratory, or chronic treatment categories. Patients hoping to reduce their chronic health care costs can be confused by online product and purchasing options, and put themselves in a dangerous situation by buying from an unauthorized seller with the wrong information, product, or treatment settings.
How to Keep Unauthorized Sellers at Bay
Controlling online channels is often challenging for medical device companies who have traditionally sold through resellers. Using commerce and engagement tools to capture and cater to the patients and caregivers throughout the purchase journey can result in improved revenues, and decreased transaction costs. It can also avoid scenarios like the one above. Here are the top three ways brands can improve patient health and their reputation simultaneously.
- Develop Advertising Agreements with Authorized Sellers: Medical device brands need to control product information by putting in place advertising agreements with authorized resellers and through Product Content Management tools. Together these actions ensure that patients get the right product information for the disease states they treat, up to date instruction manuals, and replacement parts.
- Educate Patients on the Benefits of Buying from Authorized Sellers: Only products purchased through authorized retailers or directly from the company have valid manufacturer warranties. Medical device manufacturers need to clearly inform all parties on the (and elsewhere) that only authorized resellers will provide safe products for patients.
- Sell Direct to Consumers: Medical device manufacturers need to sell to patients directly, where applicable. If selling direct is not an option, a medical device manufacturers should consider using a partner shared commerce platform to build a website that acts as a frontend patient commerce and engagement portal, with the existing channels acting as the fulfillment, distribution and transactional partners. The medical device manufacturer is promoting awareness and sales of their safe products, while reaping data on consumer preferences that can be used to better target and sell to them in the future.
It’s important that medical device manufacturers recognize that participating in direct online channels with patients gives them control over the brand experience and improves brand image. As the saying goes, “you’re either at the table, or on the menu” when it comes to your online sales. Any products with sufficient demand will sell online through authorized and unauthorized sellers, so it behooves medical device manufacturers to take control of their messaging, channels, and help patients live healthier lives.
Want to learn more? See how Hybris Life Sciences improves the patient and caregiver experience and enhances global health.