The consumer healthcare market is changing. B2B platforms are on the rise – with an increasing number of manufacturers building their own solutions. But how to effectively manage the emerging challenges and optimally leverage your online platform? Our CHC experts advise on how to make your B2B platform a success.
B2B consumer healthcare platforms are on the rise in many European markets. Driven by developments that started during the pandemic, there is an increasing number of platforms offering services such as…
promotional materials for new products
virtual buyer-seller interactions
compensation for inventory losses
virtual training for pharmacists
These platforms have great potential:
- Their improved convenience is appreciated by clients such as independent pharmacies and chains alike
- On the manufacturers side, they enable smooth interactions with pharmacies and allow them to benefit from freed-up sales resources – so they can focus their time on targeted activities outside of order taking
The platform trend is accelerating, and distribution networks are already changing. But how can you optimally leverage the platforms? There are many obstacles on the way to success. At Simon-Kucher, we recommend a three-step approach to navigate the key challenges of setting up a B2B platform for CHC products.
Step 1: Defining an objective and strategy for your B2B platform
In the first step, you need to determine a clear aim for your platform strategy. Here are a couple of key goals.
- Decide on the objective of your platform (e.g., do you want to decrease sales force cost or increase reach?)
- Define which customer segments you want to target and the role of the platform for each target segment (e.g., while some companies target only small customers, with the main goal to reduce cost, others offer it to all customers as an additional order channel)
- Define which omni-channel strategy you want to pursue. You should try to avoid channel conflicts and optimally leverage synergies
- Decide if you want to target a stand-alone platform or if you want to partner with other manufacturers
Step 2: How to configure/set up the platform
In the second step, you should go into further detail on how to configure your platform.
- Decide which additional features your platform should include (e.g., product suggestions to foster cross-selling, integrating processes such as inventory loss compensation)
- Define which steps you need to take for your platform integration to ensure a smooth and seamless experience for the customer (e.g., should you integrate the platform into existing POS systems?)
- Choose a logistical set-up for your platform
- Adapt your trade terms when selling products through the platform (e.g., are transfer orders an option to manage the cost of the logistics and their complexity?)
- Optimize your offerings, sales approach, and marketing strategy to optimally leverage the data from the B2B platform
Step 3: Operating model
Third, it is important to ask which organizational shifts are required to make the transition and implementation of your B2B platform a success.
- In what way does the role of your sales rep change after setting up the platform? (e.g., how often will they visit pharmacies from now on? And will customers who initiate first contact through the platform also be visited?)
- What tasks are taking place during the sales visit? (e.g., will sales reps focus on brand building interactions, or on new products and promotions?)
- In what way should your sales team size and setup change?
- What functions do you need to run the platform? Also, consider the different capabilities that you need in your team to fully utilize the platform’s potential (e.g., do you also need a platform manager?)
Managing this organizational transition well is crucial. It entails a substantial mindset shift and a role change for the sales rep. This change needs to be well prepared, communicated, and managed internally. It’s also important to emphasize that in-person sales visits are not becoming obsolete. Instead, the sales rep can spend less time on non-value adding activities which are automated by the platform.
Following this advice, promotions gain a higher visibility, and sales reps have more time for building a closer relationship with their customers (to increase their customer lifetime value). With the overall goal to strengthen the manufacturers brand and creating optimal synergy effects between direct sales and traditional sales strategies.
Still have open questions? Not sure what the best approach is?
Our experts at Simon-Kucher can accompany you through any challenges ahead. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you set up, maintain, and improve your consumer healthcare B2B platform!