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Medical Device Industry : Pros & Cons of E- Business

E- Business is a hot item for companies all over the world, including SMEs in developing countries. But which e- business applications are conducive to exporting to the European Union? To help answer the question, the CBI (Center for Promotion of imports from developing Countries), is developing a system for monitoring e-business developments. The article reproduced from “CBI News, March 2008” gives information about e-business in medical and medical laboratory equipment industry.

In the medical and medical laboratory equipment market, e-business, as players are becoming more and more comfortable with new technologies. This is not so much in the sense of selling your product directly through your website, but in terms of using new e-technologies to improve efficiency in a whole range of business processes.

However, many DC suppliers lack the knowledge and skills, financial and infrastructural resources needed to implement e-business applications. Fortunately for them, personal contacts are still considered a very important key to business in this sector, amongst others because of the high importance of pre and after sales services. So while you’re upgrading your website, consider getting an authorized representative in the European Union, too. The medical and medical laboratory equipment industry includes both medical devices and medical disposables. The main target groups for DC exporters in this industry are: distributors/ importers; local dealers/wholesalers, buying cooperatives; and end users. For this survey, we have divided e-business into 5 main business processes: marketing and sales; payment; product service delivery (PSD); Customer service; and production.


Various e-marketplaces are in use across the medical and medical laboratory equipment devices industry, such as:

In our survey, 12 out of 92 EU buyers (13%) stated that they already use e-market places and virtually all said they plan to continue doing so. However, only 5% actually buy products via marketplaces. EU buyers and experts value the importance of e-marketplaces as a “medium” for seeing and being seen. As such they offer interesting opportunities to DC suppliers for profiling themselves. However, personal and direct contact remains very important in this sector – except perhaps in Norway, as the Norwegian market for this sector is entirely tender-based.

Marketing & Sales

When it comes to marketing & sales, EU buyers and experts consider the following e-business applications to be very important:

  • Registering in directories

  • Search engine marketing

  • Email follow-up

  • Certificates

The participants in the CBI’s Export Coaching Programme (ECP) for this sector are well aware of the importance of visibility on the internet. A majority of them already use marketing strategies for this and most of them intend to do so in the future. The survey suggests that DC companies should raise their awareness of the importance of registering in directories and of search engine marketing.

Directories And Search Engines

Registering in directories and search engine marketing is an important way for DC suppliers to profile themselves on the market and to enable EU buyers to find them. Contrary to common belief, high ratings in search engine databases, which cost a lot of money, are not important. Email follow-up is important and must always be personalized. EU buyers are not interested in direct marketing and hate spam: DC suppliers should make sure they use a professional email address and avoid hotmail, yahoo, gmail or wanadoo addresses, as these tend to be discarded as spam sources. Follow –up by email is not enough, however: personal contact matters even more. For more information, please download the CBI manual on ‘How to promote your website in the EU’ ( ).

Certificates And Websites

Displaying certificates from a reputed certifier on your website is another very important form of e-marketing and sales. The most important certificates for the medical industry are CE marking, ISO and FDA certification. In browsing websites, the EU experts and buyers in this survey said they tend to look for a company profile, company history, company management (including full contact details for direct contact), product catalogues (with specifications and clear pictures), and target group information (for example, products for cardiology, anesthesiology, etc). One EU buyer warns that DC suppliers should spend money on their communication as a whole rather than merely on their website.

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