If you run a dental practice or cosmetic medical clinic, have you ever considered selling take-home skincare or oral health products online? More and more businesses across all sectors are adding e-commerce to their business model, and in our experience, it’s a business model that can be very effective in the cosmetic medical sector.
E-commerce is big news right now. The latest figures from RetailMeNot suggest that British shoppers are set to spend £60 billion online in 2016, and that mobile and tablet use will fuel an £8.9 billion increase in online sales. Figures show that shoppers will each spend an average of £1,372 online this year and that those who use their mobile or tablet as well as their PC – known as ‘multichannel’ shoppers – will spend twice as much as those who confine their shopping to their PC.
If you can create an e-commerce portion of your website that’s responsive to mobile and tablet users – which is great for your SEO too – then it’s a great opportunity to tap into this thriving online retail market.
What are the other benefits of selling products online?
1. Passive income
You work long hours and currently your practice income is based around face-to-face contact with patients. Selling products online can be an excellent way to create a passive income stream that isn’t dependent on you being in the office. When you start selling products online, customers can buy from you at any time of day or night, whether you’re sleeping or on holiday or someone in your team is off sick or on maternity leave.
Another benefit of selling products online is that an ecommerce site is a fantastic way of tracking which products are most popular so that you can adjust your stock levels accordingly. You might also decide to diversify your product range based on being able to track what patients want.
3. Not restricted by opening times
When a business operates solely on a time-for-money model, your practice income has a ceiling set by the number of appointments you can accommodate in a single day, week, month or year. By selling products online, you can edge in front of your competition by having something to offer your clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
Another benefit of selling products online is that you can expand your reach beyond a local customer base. With e-commerce, you could sell to customers anywhere in the UK or even abroad if you wanted to. You may even find that people outside of your immediate vicinity learn about your practice via your e-commerce offering and decide to travel to see you for physical appointments.
5. Attract new clients
Following on from point four above, selling products online can be a successful way of attracting new clients/patients who may not normally have investigated your bricks and mortar practice. Skincare products sold online, for example, can offer an effective entry-level treatment that then encourages buyers to have a more comprehensive treatment through your practice.
6. Customer retention
You’ve probably already found that selling take-home products that will help to enhance and maintain treatment results is a powerful way to add value to your patient experience. Stocking the right interdental brushes, for example, or the skincare products you use to prepare the skin for a treatment can each be effective add-ons. By selling these products online, you can add an extra dimension to your customer retention as your e-commerce site can act as a catalogue for current patients, letting them access more of the products they love quickly and easily. This keeps your practice at the forefront of their minds for the next time they want a treatment.
7. Build your mailing list
When people buy from your e-commerce site, you could give them the option to sign-up to your mailing list in order to receive your newsletter. Once you secure this opt-in, you have permission to contact the person to tell them more about your treatments and services. It is far easier to sell to a warm lead – someone who has expressed an interest in your practice – than to a cold lead, i.e. someone who has never heard of your practice before.
8. A steady income stream
By selling products online, you won’t have to wait until someone reaches the end of a treatment stage to receive payment. Online payments are received instantly and can create a steady income stream for your practice. Depending on the scope of products you sell, this income stream may not be huge but it will be reliable and consistent.
9. Improve your organic traffic
Research by American company, PM Digital, shows that 38% of online sales in the skin care sector come about as a result of organic searches via search engines. Adding an e-commerce portion to your website and optimising it with different skin care ranges and products can be a highly effective way to attract new searches – people who may not otherwise have found your business – and drive more traffic to your website. An increase in click-through rates can then lower your bounce rate, increase site ‘dwell’ time (how long people stay on your site), attract product reviews and boost your conversion rates – all positive signals to Google that will encourage the search engine to rank your website higher.