JUL-AUG 2017

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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At SkinCare Physicians in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, patients wanted the convenience of being able to order their homecare products online. The practice's e-commerce site has proven to be a win-win. "A patient can pick up a sample during an offi ce visit, and then decide whether or not she wants to purchase the product without having to later drive back to the practice. It has increased sales volume, revenue and patient satisfaction," says Christine E. Foley, chief oper- ating offi cer at SkinCare Physicians. Plus, the practice rakes in profi ts even when the offi ce is closed. "Nearly 25% of our online orders are placed on weekends," says Foley. An additional benefi t has been the platforms reporting capabilities that allow the practice to create and export detailed reports, and analyze its online sales. While online ordering is fi rst and foremost a way to make purchasing more convenient for your existing patient base, it can also help attract consumers from outside of your region. Tess Mauricio, MD, FAAD, founder of M Beauty by Dr. Tess clinics in Beverly Hills and San Diego, California, has been able to capitalize on her media appearances and large social media following through her e-commerce site. "Demand from outside California increased after my appearances on Dr. Phil and The Talk," she says. "We are able reach many more people outside our geographic area by having an online platform." Getting Started With e-Commerce Creating and maintaining an e-commerce site is no small venture. "It can become very fancy and expensive," says Dr. Mauricio. Adding a platform to your website will cost between $5,000 for a bare-bones version and $50,000 for a plat- form with all the bells and whistles. There can also be additional costs for a web designer to maintain your site, and practices will need staff members to handle inventory, packing and shipping of products. Dr. Mauricio recommends that practice owners start the process by researching existing e-stores and use that research to determine the look, feel and capabilities they want for their sites. Keep in mind that even if you hire a professional website designer to manage the site, you will still play an integral role in the process. "You have to select products and provide product descriptions and professional images to your web- site designer," says Justin Smith, CEO of Outerbox, a web design and e-commerce company in Akron, Ohio. "You also have to provide information about your company and make decisions regarding shipping policies and promotions." Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD, a Utah-based dermatologist who markets and sells her CherylLeeMD Sensitive Skin Care product line on AZOVA, an e-commerce platform that she developed, points out that practices will need operational resources in place before the site launches. For example, healthcare providers and staff members need to be trained and ready to ship products promptly, manage inventory, launch marketing programs, and respond to shoppers' queries and complaints. "Staying organized and on top of all of the moving parts is essential to ensure high patient satisfaction and profi tability," agrees Foley. To make the site a success, Dr. Mauricio recommends working with professionals to create a digital marketing strat- egy. "Work with experts in digital marketing who can help you create traffi c for your online store," she says. Choosing Your Features The fi rst step in adding online sales is selecting a platform and the features you would like included. If you are already working with a professional web design and marketing fi rm, it can help you build your platform. If you are maintaining your own website, there are several e-commerce solution providers to investigate. "Square Up, Shopify, WooCommerce, and a host of oth- er online merchant companies provide easy-to-implement solutions that make it easy to manage an online store," says Joe Amaral, operations manager of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing in Orlando, Florida. "These software programs ensure an aesthetically pleasing site and offer a variety of options and features to help you effectively implement on line sales." There are some basic, standard fea- tures to consider. First, you will need an online merchant account so you can accept credit card payments. You can likely add to this to your practice's ex- isting merchant account or work with an online merchant account provider. Make sure the platform you choose is secure and offers encryption tech- nology to protect your customers' credit card data. Creati tai i commerce si small ve e. "It ca ery fa c sive." © GETTY IMAGES | JULY/AUGUST 2017 41

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