Creating an Online Business Expansion Plan for Healthcare Products Essay

Introduction

Tennessee Healthcare Supplies Unlimited (THSU) has been providing healthcare supplies to the surrounding community for nearly 17 years. We are now looking to expand our business by providing our services online. THSU provides medical products and supplies to be consumed by the general population.

THSU promises to provide quality products at affordable prices with efficient processes. Our mission is to exceed customer expectations with the vision of being the best online medical supply company.

THSU provides a wide variety of medical products with our focus being on the general population. We offer everything one may need for medical care in the home from incontinence supplies to crutches.

THSU will provide medical products and supplies from these categories: applicators/depressors, bandages, blood pressure products, disposable wear, first aid/protective kits, gauze products, gloves, hot/cold therapy, incontinent care, infection control, medical tapes, orthopedic products, paper products, personal care items, respiratory products, scales, sharps containers, stethoscopes, thermometers, vitamin/supplements, and wound care items.

We have been a viable company for over 17 years. In today’s society with many people choosing to make their purchases online we are also going to market ourselves to the online world.

At THSU, we are experts in home care products and weight scales and have carefully selected only the top quality brands available for the past 17 years. Our products are priced to save you money, our service is always prompt and courteous and our promise, as a new online company, is to have our deliveries always be fast and reliable.

Online advertising is the best modern way to attract, capture and retain customers in a mass market. Consumers are informed about the availability of the product in the market, the exact locations where it can be purchased, and the advantages of using the product. The internet provides businesses a place to advertise and market their product to a large number of people very quickly.

Online advertising allows a business to market their product and services as compared to other competitor online services allowing the business to stand out from their competitors. Last, the company policy regarding shipping, returns, damaged items and customer satisfaction will be available on the website as well as any other relevant information.

Main body

Business expansion begins by carrying out an analysis which explains whether there is need for expansion, advantages to be derived from the business expansion, and how consumers will benefit from the expansion. The current financial position of the business will be assessed to determine the actual increase in business as a result of the expansion.

This will come along with costs related to the expansion such as: recruitment of more staff members, acquisition of new equipment and training staff members. A time frame and/or deadline will be established for training, acquiring new staff and educating them about the goals and objectives of the new business and/or business expansion.

An analysis needs to be made to determine source of capital for expansion and will begin by doing a budget on cash needs. If need be, capital can be raised for the expansion process and this will be via bank loan, or increasing share capital for shareholders causing them to contribute more capital (Kotler & Keller, 2008).

After this analysis, a good business plan will be drawn. It will give an account of the current business operations, expected operation after expansion, details of experience and qualifications of staff and also employment status.

This will help consumers know more about the company profile so they can decide if they want to create a relationship with the business, also this will help the company to secure financing from banks (Kotler & Keller, 2008).

While planning the online business, the company will carry out a visibility cost analysis: assessing the staffing needs to carry out the web designing, maintaining and providing frequent press release, responding to consumer queries, receiving online orders, dispatching products purchased and carrying out general administration for the new business.

Web designing will cost around $500.00. Staff members will consist of full time and part time employees that will earn a monthly salary. Their key performance indicator will be based on the number of customers served. There will be allocated funds for equipment which includes computers and laptops to be used to maintain our online business. The task to maintain the online business includes consumer feedback, process of orders, etc.

In order to expand Tennessee Healthcare Supplies Unlimited (THSU) we are going to use the Market-Development Strategy to find or develop new market for our current products. This strategy will include using various media outlets to help make consumers aware of the business expansion.

This will be done via television, radio advertising, preferred magazine pull outs, Google ad word adverts and also social web sites such as Facebook, and twitter. This will be done in hopes of increasing web presence. This integration will take the form of search engine optimization (SEO), allowing other companies to advertise on our site, carrying out email marketing, buy online media space and carry out frequent press releases.

This is a critical area that when well utilized can greatly increase the findability of the website on the internet through available search engines. There are scripts that will be embedded in the website to optimize the website’s findability through search engines and this is intended to increase flow of traffic to the website which ultimately is intended to result in profitability to the company (Kotler & Keller, 2008).

These press releases will detail the milestones the company is taking to ensure it offers the best products in the market, and above all, the best design of the social sites.

Social media networks will form another area that will be an integral part of THSU’s online marketing campaign to be managed by our marketing personnel. As our social media presence grows, we will evaluate the need to add full-time personnel dedicated to social media marketing. On these social media networks we will advertise daily specials on products and shipping.

We will have a featured product every week to encourage new business with an incentive to clients who refer new clients via these social network sites. For the long term plan for monitoring, analyzing, and growing social media, there will have to be a personnel assigned to constantly be in touch with the customers that will be communicating and sharing their views through different chat rooms.

To foster loyalty and commitment, reward strategies that will provide discounts for customers that are active in their invitation of friends to our website and those that are active in the chat rooms will be encouraged and this should be able to create a considerable database of dedicated consumers (Kotler & Keller, 2008).

Online marketing will help to attract more people to the website, increase customers and enhance brand loyalty. We will begin by having a web promotion plan which will start with an effective web design and development strategy. This design and strategy will be appealing to consumers and in return will give us good search optimization techniques.

Good online marketing goes hand in hand with an efficient email marketing tool where customers can be briefed about product features and any other relevant information. We will introduce reseller affiliate programs and associate programs all aimed at gaining more client referrals.

We will also build a responsive opt-in email list, where consumers will communicate directly to us, publish online web releases, facilitate and run online contests and introduce a blog/online 24 hour customer support where the company can chat directly with online clients providing answers to their queries. In addition, the social networks through chat rooms will present another platform for customer relationship management.

These in effect will greatly increase the relationship with customers and management of their communication and constant staying in touch with them. Our target market will be focused on the general population in need of medical supplies. To attract new customers in our marketing strategies we will offer a 10% discount to new customers and also, a 10% discount for customer referrals that make a purchase.

The product needs to be viable in order for it to satisfy consumer needs. Viability of the products is what provides a market outlook on the product, how it will be marketed, who the target market is, and the purchase locations. This provides an analysis on the way consumers will perceive the product or service in terms of how this will satisfy their demands, and help increase the possibility of using the product again.

The company must present the product attractively online and list all the benefits of using the product. This will be followed by customer testimonials giving detailed information of that product, over a period of time, showing the benefits to consumers.

Before going online, the company will analyze the product using the BCG model where the product will be classified as a star, a cash cow, a problem child or a dog. Once proper analysis has been made, the company will do a budget analysis to determine the extent of budgeting requirements.

If the product is a star, more expenditure has to be incurred to ensure that there is wide market coverage for the product to make sure there will be a long period of consumer usage of the product. If a cash cow, modest expenditure should be incurred since the objective is to get as much revenue as possible from the product before phasing it out of the market.

To carry out a proper online expansion, the company must identify potential competitors, which are companies offering similar products or services. Once the competitors have been identified an assessment will be done to determine the competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. THSU has several similar online business competitors who include: NorthShoreCareSupply.com and AtlanticMedSupply.com.

We will separate ourselves by assuring quality, affordability, and exceptional customer service. All products we provide are from leading manufacturers. We will take into serious consideration the strengths and opportunities of the competitor, try to see where the competitor is doing very well and how that is made possible so that we can look for ways of making that our opportunity aimed at taking that market share.

These competitors’ approach to online marketing is informed by unilateral investment in marketing schemes and approaches that reach to their target consumers with ease. For instance, NorthShoreCareSupply.com has its website integrated with mobile phone interface that allows its consumers to receive customized details of the products and services provided in the comfort of their homes all the time.

Most of these competitors have also enlarged their market share by integrating services of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and twitter to popularize their products and services (Brigham & Daves, 2004).

This notwithstanding, THSU has braced itself to deal with these competitive forces and it is its strategies and investment in state-of-the-art technologies that are user friendly for its consumers as well as bring convenience in their business transactions with the company.

Of the many approaches taken by THSU, what stands out is its integrated online coverage which has been realized by having its online business sited and connected to a large network of websites and social networks which serves to popularize its products and services (Kotler & Keller, 2008).

Customer service is THSU’s top priorities with their focus on warehouse efficiency assuring products are shipped within 12 hours of purchase. Also, THSU offers free ground shipping on orders greater than $50.00 and free 2 day express shipping on orders greater than $100.00.

Although Atlantic Med Supply does ship in stock items same day if orders are placed by 4:00 pm central time, they only offer free shipping on orders greater than $125.00. The other strength of Atlantic Med Supply is they have a wide assortment of clearance items on their website, however a weakness is most are unavailable.

This causes decreased customer satisfaction. Northshore Care Supply does not offer free shipping at all except with occasional promotional items. Strength of Northshore Care Supply is they ship all packages in plain, unmarked boxes for privacy. Even the shipping label does not mention medical supplies. Strength of Northshore Care Supply is they have daily promotions and/or discounts.

As regards online marketing strategy and marketing, our target audiences are especially the young to medium age customers who are mindful of their health and therefore are keen on keeping their health in constant check. In order to reach this target market of our online product sale, we must optimize the online content.

In order to do this, we have to ensure the information we have on the website is targeted to consumers and has the right words consumers will be looking for. We must have a clear hierarchy and text links, where every page will be easily accessed by one link. The information on every link should be useful, with a clear and accurate description of the content.

We must limit flash files, portable document files and dynamic content since this will reduce our search optimization progress or we employ Meta tags to exclude such content from search engines to increase our ranking (Brigham & Daves, 2004). The slogan that is used for THSU online marketing is “Your Health; our Top Priority”.

For the younger customers who are greatly enthused by celebrities and modernity, celebrity endorsement is an approach that will greatly appeal to them increasing the sale of our products to them. It can also be anticipated that teens will certainly purchase the product regardless of the price as long as it appeals to their tastes.

Online customer relationship management is the way the company will manage its relationship with customers, clients and any other sales force. It accomplishes this by organizing, automating and synchronizing sales, marketing, customer service and technical support activities. All of this aimed at ensuring customers get the satisfaction they deserve. The objective being to retain current customers, entice and acquire new ones.

This will reduce marketing costs and customer service level agreement. We will have dedicated staff who will answer customer questions in real-time, we shall work on an online agents offering live chat with customers, and this will help customers get immediate solutions to any immediate concerns (Eley & Tilley, 2009).

The data collected through our online customer relationship team will be trended and reviewed by management. As areas of opportunities are identified, education will be done for the team at THSU in order to improve. When positive trends are identified, this also will be communicated to our team in order to assure continuation of customer satisfaction.

THSU will have to purchase a registered domain with a unique web address. We will work with WebsitePalace.com to help identify a unique web address that is available. We will elect to register as a private domain in order to reduce the amount of spam. By THSU having a register domain, it’s like having a place online to call “home”.

As regards e-commerce operations of the company, the website will have provisions for clients to register and order for their goods that they want and in the registration, they will be required to give their addresses for purposes of sending the packages to them.

A proper and secure payment system such as PayPal or wire transfer should be in place which enables customers to pay online for products and services and delivery of the products must be real-time as per the information provided by the customer during time of purchase. The product must be tested to make sure quality is guaranteed so as to eliminate cases of customer complaints and consequent shipping back the product.

Online business will reach the entire world at the click on the website link so the company must anticipate and expect to make sales to a very wide market, it should strategize to have feedback from potential areas away from home country where purchases are high and so it should plan to have a franchise operating there if this will be economical as opposed to sending the products from home country.

The website should have a translation tool which will help customers not able to read English to translate the data to a language of their choice, and adequate measures should be put in place to accommodate different cultures for instance in terms of packaging, advertising might be restricted in certain ways in some cultures (Eley & Tilley, 2009).

Conclusion

Basically, there must be a detailed plan for the expansion/growth of an online healthcare business, which gives the framework of operations, detailed account procedures to be followed and an outline of the expected benefits resulting from the expansion. This is what the company management will look at and assesses the possibility of having the business expanded and therefore try to increase sales though online advertising.

The expansion should be carried out in stages since this will give the company room to introduce new online products, give employees time to study and understand the systems and be able to assist clients.

References

Brigham, E., & Daves, P. (2004). Intermediate Financial Management (8th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.

Eley, B., & Tilley, S. (2009). Online Marketing Inside Out. Melbourne: SitePoint.

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2008). Marketing Management (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.