Surf’s up on new online opportunities

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

E-commerce volume has quadrupled in the last decade. “Buy it Now” buttons pop up like mushrooms in every online experience. Prospective purchasers of nearly everything expect to find both informational and transactional channels online.

This “Amazon Avalanche” is real, and it’s happening now. Businesses in every industry everywhere have decisions to make—decisions that will make the difference between surfing this wave to new success and being swamped.

Here at Philips, we’re well accustomed to change, having reinvented the company multiple times over in the last 120 years to meet customer and patient needs. That’s why we’ve recently updated our patient education website, COPDinfo.com, and linked it to an e-commerce site, healthstore.philips.com, to meet these contemporary market expectations. But within that change is one reliable constant: We’re supporting our DME customers to better participate in this inevitable next-generation of business by advising them on marketing strategies, sharing online educational resources, and investing in online and other media advertising.

Our early readings of online data only confirm the wisdom of such action. First, the fact that consumers/patients are already consulting online educational resources at all is an obvious indication of some unmet need. And second, our analysis of online activity paints a picture of an anxious, sometimes frustrated consumer, navigating from page to page in search of a substantial answer to an obvious question: How can I make my life easier, more comfortable or more productive?

Now that connected consumers are seeking information and solutions online, it’s important to educate patients about the best choices for their needs. We have invested much into educating consumers through online education and multi-media advertising, and we can see the uptick in consumer interest. Since our e-commerce site debuted this summer, within several weeks of the website debut we’ve had about 2,500 clicks on the “find near you” button, which identifies nearby DMEs for consumers. We’ve also fielded about 500 calls that resulted in the consumer reaching out to their DME for support. So, in total, Philips has helped thousands of consumers learn about our products and support options.

Our move is a natural response to industry trends. Forrester research tells us that when a manufacturer advertises directly to its end-user consumers, it instills confidence in the customer’s shopping experience and, ultimately, helps generate traction, greater brand awareness, and incremental sales for channel partners. In fact, 55% of survey responders said it positively impacted channel relationships. At the same time, we fully understand that this is not just a cash-only transaction. These are prescriptive devices. We are focused on enabling consumers to make the best choice to personalize care for themselves. So, if they choose to buy from a local DME, online DME, or direct from manufacturer, they are making the best decision for their care. Given the current marketplace, Philips is intent on increasing awareness and improving access to our leading COPD products and meeting this consumer need in the manner that best meets the needs of consumers.

We believe this strategy creates a rising tide that lifts all boats, and DMEs will realize improvements as they continue to be an indispensable partner to their patients. Philips is generating new COPD advertising and patient education materials to be shared with DMEs so that they educate their current patients to uncover their patients’ needs before someone else does.

Moreover, our refreshed patient education content and tools will help boost overall demand for Philips products purchased from our DME customers.

We all want to make the patient experience to be the best it can be. Investments in online education, brand awareness and tools that help the patient find DMEs benefit all parties. Understanding where health care is going is crucial to making smart decisions today. Philips looks at the big picture to spot trends and uncover insights that inform our work and support the goals of our DME customers.

As part of Philips’ strategy to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025, we are always looking for new ways to increase access to DME care and Philips products. That requires an enhanced online presence. DMEs remain our most important customers, and we believe innovative collaborations where manufacturers and care providers connect the right levels of care, at the right times, better serve societal needs and improve patient outcomes. Business is not a static universe, but as things change we’re making sure our DME partners will succeed along with us.

Eli Diacopoulos is vice president, general manager, Respiratory Care, Philips

Jim Doty is leader of North America marketing, Sleep and Respiratory Care, Philips