Global E-Commerce: Digital Content Trends, Influences, and Strategies for Drug and Device Manufacturers

welocalize February 17, 2020

The internet is the world’s busiest and noisiest marketplace. Getting medical, pharma, and other products and services to the right target online audience in a virtual sea of information takes knowledge and some courage. It’s a worthwhile effort though.

Global brands are investing heavily in their online presence, combining online and physical sales experiences, and driving digital marketing campaigns to improve the customer journey and ultimately increase sales. If content can’t be found (or understood), products won’t sell.

The role of content and linguistic copywriting is crucial for any e-commerce operator. Content is the bridge to online B2B and B2C consumers – it’s what makes an item or service become potential ROI. Prioritization of accurate and relevant digital e-commerce content is key.

Here are some of the key influencing factors impacting global e-commerce and content strategy for drug and device manufacturers:

More Marketplaces + Consolidation

Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart – the internet is dominated by large marketplaces. Specifically, Amazon’s entry into the healthcare and pharmacy marketplace is one of the latest—and widely publicized—developments in the rapidly changing landscape of the pharmaceutical industry.

WATCH: “How Amazon Could Change the Pharmacy Industry,” via CNBC

According to Robert J. Feeney, Jr., Founder and CEO of Medvantex, there is a shift to a more consumer centric model, and that trend is certainly only going to accelerate. “If they are to survive, manufacturers will need independent, direct-to-patient anticipatory logistics powered by e-commerce technology.”

As we stated in this post, there will continue to be more acquisitions, including movement into the industry by technology firms and online marketplace platforms.

TOP TIP: M&A often means that the combined businesses are now looking at new markets. Whether contact lenses or digital health devices, product localization is critical for success in international markets. Recognizing that ‘international’ is part of the growth equation allows brands to get ahead and to get it right. Getting a new product ready for global markets is a multi-step process that requires a cross-functional team of experts. Follow these key steps for international success.

It’s Not Just B2C

Life sciences research buyers and suppliers are increasingly using specialized online B2B marketplaces. For example, according to a recent article in Forbes, eight out of 10 pharmaceutical companies use Science Exchange e-commerce marketplace to access R&D services externally.

Andrii Buvailo, Head of Ecommerce at Enamine Ltd, having grown used to everyday experiences with popular e-commerce brands like Amazon “life sciences research buyers are expecting a similar consumer-like buying experience in their B2B environment at work—even for complex and expensive scientific products.”

M-Commerce + M-Health Global Apps

health options on mobile device

With the number of mobile phone users reaching 4.8 billion worldwide, we use our mobile devices for nearly everything. According to Zion Research, the global m-health apps market is expected to generate around US$111.1 billion by 2025, creating significant opportunities for engagement, as well as for manufacturers, providers, and, ultimately, trial outcomes.

For healthcare providers to better connect with patients, the implementation of mobile apps that meet their needs is crucial. According to a recent survey by SOTI, the top three things patients use mobile apps for are: Scheduling appointments (70%), viewing lab results (52%) and requesting prescriptions (40%). While these mobile apps provide patients with speed and convenience at their fingertips, for healthcare providers, according to SOTI, the most beneficial aspect of these mobile apps is that nearly half (46%) of all patients are more likely to schedule follow-up visits.

“Drug and device OEMs and distributors should prioritize their e-commerce strategy based on the maturity of their buyer/market using a mix of available digital tools for educating, researching product information, and order and payment management,” notes Kamaljit Behera, Industry Analyst, Transformational Health.

Publishing content, in all target languages, that renders on mobile devices is a key component of any e-commerce content strategy.

AI Plays a Key Role 

People want to be informed about their medications or devices and obtain that information themselves online or through their mobile devices. Digital marketing strategies can keep patients more directly connected with companies and transform healthcare and clinical research to more closely mirror other company-to-consumer processes. Some of the best ways to offer this to individuals are through digital marketing strategies, including social media and multilingual chatbots.

Use of AI in customer support, a crucial part of the e-commerce flow, is common. Other AI enabled solutions used in e-commerce include augmented marketing analytics, conversion optimization technologies, real-time personalization and intelligent pricing, helping drug and device manufacturers gain a competitive edge by managing and optimizing their outreach and engagement.

TOP TIP: Machine learning can be used to transform unstructured data into high-quality multilingual AI datasets to enable customer support tools, such as chatbots, to reach customers in multiple languages. 

Multilingual Digital Marketing 

Getting heard online is a challenge and the right global digital marketing strategy is key to gaining competitive advantage. Targeting multiple markets online encompasses a range of skills and activities – each must be adapted to the local language and online shopping habits. Activities including search, PPC, paid and organic social media, content creation, cultural adaption, and programmatic advertising, all require knowledge of local markets and channels, and must be localized to reach the right audiences.

cartoon of people using chatbot on mobileTOP TIP: Global social media and influencer marketing will continue to grow and play a key role for e-commerce. Influencer marketing using relevant social media channels is more targeted and leads to high engagement rates. Linking e-commerce activity from social media accounts is a growth area to increase conversions. 

If your organization is interested in global app development, increasing patient engagement, or reaching more consumers through localized e-commerce and marketing outreach, contact Welocalize Life Sciences.