Ecommerce in Healthcare 1: The Role of User Experience

By Rob Innes, 28 November 2019

The healthcare industry is rapidly digitising. Medical supplies providers are increasingly moving online and clinics, hospitals and laboratories are using ecommerce to help streamline purchasing processes. With growing interest from tech giants like Amazon in the healthcare industry, smaller players running ecommerce platforms need to act now to address issues, realise benefits and take opportunities to grow.

This article is focussed on User Experience and is the first of three articles in our Ecommerce in Healthcare series. The second will look at Website Operations and the third will look at Traffic Optimisation.

 

The Role of User Experience in Ecommerce

Good user experience (UX) can make or break an ecommerce site. Some websites make it difficult for users not only to find products they want, but also to sort out payment and delivery. This approach gives users many opportunities  to abort their sessions. A more user-centric approach can yield far greater results: making it easy for the visitor makes it successful for the brand.

With years of experience developing ecommerce solutions in Healthcare, we’ve listed below 7 areas we think providers should focus UX efforts on for the greatest success.

Personalisation: Different users will each scan a small subset of a product catalogue and only a few website features, so consider how to optimise the experience for them. Are there elements that can be grouped together, clustered or related in ways that make it easier for frequent buyers? Do features such as ‘repeat last order’ help? How do you notify regular users of new features or categories to bring variety to their searches? Analytics from site visits can inform personalisation tests and measure engagement for further tests. 

Templates: Product description pages (PDPs), product family pages (PFPs) and category landing pages (CLPs) are commonly used to organise and highlight elements within a catalogue, and they may form a discovery journey from CLP to PFP to PDP (and then onwards to order). But what’s the right mix of layout and functionality to bring pages to life and make browsing easier for buyers? More templates equals more flexibility but also more maintenance.

Design: With ecommerce, design is all about subtlety and focus. It’s important to provide enough structure and organisation to allow users to quickly navigate, search and select, whilst also giving options to call out lots of site features and product attributes. However, it’s important not to confuse and distract users. It’s quite a balancing act, which in the healthcare industry is only exacerbated with the nature of products. A PDP with product description copy length restrictions may force critical information to be omitted. Good design in ecommerce is often described as ‘unseen’, and by that, it’s meant that the design is serving its purpose and doing the job well, but it doesn’t intrude or distract the user.

 

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Storefronts: Many ecommerce platforms allow the base product catalogue and checkout engine to be organised around multiple storefronts, which can be a good way to organise information to engage different types of buyers. These storefronts might be based on territory or perhaps by sector, for example, medical, education, first responders or scientific. Each sector may have unique drivers, unique configurations and different price or product combinations.

Microsites: Tactical microsites, perhaps on their own sub-domain, gather elements from the full site into standalone experiences. These could, for example, address a forthcoming event or conference, a vendor sponsorship or a particular industry focus. This allows for the promotion of special activities or temporary associations without complicating the main site. Tactical microsites can become highly targeted to the needs of a specialist audience, and may even persist for the long term.

Information Architecture: Ecommerce basket items are a list of stock keeping units (SKUs) but these roll up to families, categories, sub categories and the like. SKUs also have attributes such as colour, size, capacity and material.. Together, good organisation of these elements makes the life of a buyer easier and faster as it can reduce failed searches, customer service costs and abandoned sessions. Good IA also helps administrators to organise content around logical service areas and reflect real-world categorisations and associations.

Product Selection / Configuration: A site search that returns hundreds or even thousands of results, showing an apparently endless list of SKUs, for example, with antibodies, or glassware, is almost as much good as zero results. How can a customer easily make a selection? Interactive product selector tools allow fine grained filtering and configuration for a particular user need state, and moves the resultant results directly to a basket.

If you're a supplier of healthcare equipment, devices or consumables, about to embark on your ecommerce journey, or if you're an existing ecommerce provider looking to improve your performance, get in touch with us today. 

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