Now let’s look inside the report and think about what this could mean for the pharma industry in the long run…
The fast-growing e-commerce became our natural environment in the last couple of years, no matter what age group we belong to, be it Gen X, Millennials, or Generation Z, our buying experience with a sales representative or assistant might be soon completely overlooked, while the new means of marketing and selling are taking their rightful place. As one generation influences another, one can only forecast how tech-savvy digital buyers are going to look and behave in the future.
According to Forrester’s research, US B2B eCommerce sales have grown from $777 billion in 2015 to $1.2 trillion by 2021.
How can companies embrace new buying habits?
Enterprises must be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing needs of their customers. But the starting point that should be thoroughly examined first is always the target audience. Now it comes with no surprise to see online buyers constantly shopping or requesting services using online channels (just look at younger consumers who are almost “glued” to their smartphones). With mobile technologies rapidly evolving, making purchases, engaging with brands via social networks, or searching for information using mobile devices became part of our regular day-to-day smartphone usage.
Of course, we are not necessarily talking about actual online buying. The thing is that online presence helps companies to build stronger brand awareness via the right channel mix and boost customers’ loyalty – that is an essential part of the customer lifecycle in today’s reality. Companies require to adopt an omnichannel approach, merging their marketing tools, data, technologies, and people to ensure the best-in-class experience.
What worldwide B2B practices teach pharma: how to overcome siloed strategies to meet customer demands:
In the customer-oriented age, the online shopping experience should be embraced and developed to the full extent — no matter where the client is. As statistics reveal, today’s B2B buyer runs nearly 12 online searches before purchasing a specific brand; while 55% of B2B marketing budgets are allocated toward digital promotion that helps provide a more personalized buying experience.
Only one-third of the companies surveyed are now executing ot optimizing their omnichannel strategy, whereas 3% of businesses have no actual plans to implement an omnichannel strategy at all.
When it comes to pharmaceutical marketing, nothing is different. Patients, as well as physicians, are indeed craving a first-class personalized experience from pharmaceutical brands, as long as such experiences concern their health and well-being. Omnichannel might provide the required return here.
It has been shown that happier clients lead to better business results: 23% of retailers are saying they expect to reach more consumers with their online tactics and 25% are driven to boost client fulfillment.
But a truly comprehensive omnichannel strategy is not about creating a website with a huge amount of content flowing from many web sections. Patients and healthcare professionals don’t expect to be bombarded with information or long lists of medical prescriptions over the myriad of channels – but instead, they want to be diagnosed, treated, and supported by each digital (or non-digital) touchpoint, and become more health-aware and data-savvy. Only tailored digital experiences can link the company’s visions and goals to the specific needs and behaviors of every client, optimizing overall outcomes in each customer segment.
What is going on in the B2B omnichannel landscape, or where are we heading?
An omnichannel strategy is unfolding around content, people, and tech – meaning that companies transform their staff, technology, workflows, and even their culture to support the customer when and where necessary.
Let’s look at a few primary dimensions more in detail:
People behind the brand.
- How well are your teams connected?
- Are they well informed about their responsibilities, roles, and tasks?
- Are they conscious enough about their strengths and weaknesses?
In fact, for successful team performance, everyone should be in their right place.
48% of B2B-only retailers stated they met this criterion.
Processes. Are your business processes and workflows clearly established?
41% of companies said “yes“.
Technology. Does your company hold the right technology and tools to execute an omnichannel strategy?
41% of businesses agreed to have met the criterion.
Culture. Is your company’s organization prepared for omnichannel commerce?
40% of respondents declared they met this criterion.
Potential hurdles that might be encountered on the way to omnichannel excellence
As new technologies emerge at a fast pace, B2B companies might be struggling with 2 main challenges while trying to keep up with their digital users. These are realizing time-to-value and a lack of budget. Among other reasons, retailers also mentioned a lack of unified experience across channels and barriers toward embracing e-commerce tools. Some companies‘ employees struggle to work with self-service digital websites for enhanced brand promotion, or, vice versa, many teams, who are involved in e-commerce only, might encounter hurdles when incorporating offline tools into their strategy.
Ultimately, companies should build a cohesive presence of both online and offline touchpoints and keep the right balance, constantly managing how one channel interacts with another. Or, as it was mentioned in the research, to balance the benefits provided by digital automation with a more consultative customer-centric selling approach.
Customer data is now being spread among a myriad of channels, including mobile, websites, social media, etc. When it comes to such strictly regulated industries as Pharma and Life Sciences, clients’ data should be thoroughly recorded, located, and unified from various touchpoints. Data silos should be split up in order to succeed in the increasingly competitive market and attain customer loyalty through personalized messaging. For pharma, it means integrating CRM data and Marketing Automation System.
Based on research: the use of digital technologies in fostering customer experience
More than two-thirds of retailers in this study adopted SaaS solutions for their eCommerce strategy. Among the key benefits are easy implementation, elimination of extra work of IT departments, a shorter learning process, and better cost-effectiveness. B2B marketers require a stable technological backbone to rely on while creating an omnichannel ecosystem and bridging their digital and traditional sales and marketing channels into a centralized approach.
The adoption of technology is revolutionizing every industry with no exceptions. For example, a wide array of digital tools and platforms allow life sciences and pharmaceutical companies to make real-time decisions; HCPs – to provide quality care to their patients; sales representatives – to stay on the curve with the latest innovations in healthcare and Life Sciences, and much more.
According to the study, retailers are most likely to manage three core technologies to run their online selling — a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, an eCommerce platform, and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
How can pharma employ eCommerce as the primary driver for future success?
The businesses are getting ready for an omnichannel selling future, with 83% saying they expect to increase the volume of eCommerce sales over the next three years.
The shift to eCommerce adoption is only going to be accelerated and deepened in the years to come. Statistics show that B2B companies that run online selling showed increased revenue, a more effective pricing model, and product catalog optimization. Moreover, it is assumed that e-commerce strategies will help open new markets much faster and at a lower cost employing online channels – that indeed opens new perspectives for building an omnichannel selling future.
Pharma has also been influenced by rapid digital marketing maturity and the revolution in embracing virtual channels. For example, VR and AR presentations for HCPs with educational purposes to create more interactive and engaging experiences; or ordering prescribed medicines by patients using a single application (such as the RefillPro app where users can “access” the selected pharmacy just in a few clicks), and many more.
Let’s sum up
Focus on the entire customer journey, but not on separate phases. To ensure a better omnichannel experience, marketers and sales teams must understand that digital-oriented customers might change their behaviors and preferences more often if compared to more “offline-preferred” clients. They need to thoroughly design their journeys, including previous, current, and post-sale phases.
Manage your teams accordingly to gain maximum from omnichannel selling. Organizational management should work on getting over barriers and focus on strengthening relationships between digital and traditional sales teams.
Find a powerful partnership to ease omnichannel adoption. For example, a suitable technological partner comes with the most advanced tools and resources available for content creation, task automation, and analytics that help develop a seamless plan of your operational strategy according to your business needs.
Grow an adaptive culture. When gearing up for new e-commerce opportunities, the approach to building an organizational culture should be adjustable and structured. Companies need to focus on constant measurement of their business impact and follow change management procedures, which help adjust employees to any sort of change or new competencies.
Stuck in the middle of omnichannel adoption?
While planning to create a perfect omnichannel ecosystem, the pharma industry has encountered an entire science with different “ingredients” that should be merged: solution architecture, content, psychology, strategy, people, workflows, and tech. But how to make all that live and function and not scrape for real expertise piece by piece?
Flexible and relevant content is the essence, the core thing that helps fuel an omnichannel strategy with meaning. An effective automation system can orchestrate a large amount of data and manage various campaign processes such as building customer journeys, conducting social media management, and broadcast emails in one place.
But why do some pharma and life sciences companies stagnate at some stage of omnichannel implementation and don’t get the promised results? It became clear that integration could bring much more than just a conglomeration of channels and tools. You don’t have to give up what you already have, you just need to distinguish the gaps and missing pieces to determine the further path.
Viseven specialists will help you to break silos, provide the missing links, systems, and establish workflows, from architecture to mindset. If you are interested in further opportunities on how to organically manufacture your omnichannel capacities, contact our experts. We will help you to thrive in the new era of omnichannel marketing.