Pfizer’s Viagra Legitimizes B2C eCommerce for Manufacturers

Written May 8th, 2013 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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Psssst.

Over here.

I’ve got something for you.

You know you want it.

You’ve been lusting after it for years but were too afraid to do anything about it.  Now’s your chance.  If Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, can do it…you can do it.

Yes, you too can sell direct to consumers over the internet.  So what’s holding you back?


Pfizer made a huge announcement today that should influence the eCommerce industry for years to come.  Primarily due to pressures from black market counterfeiters, the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue that they siphon away from Pfizer’s coffers and last (but not least) concern for the public’s safety, Pfizer recently launched a direct to consumer website.  For legal reasons, because pharmaceutical companies can’t sell prescription drugs directly to consumers, fulfillment of the “little blue pill” is via one of Pfizer’s largest customers, CVS Caremark).

So what’s holding you back from selling direct to consumers?  Here are a few of the reasons I’ve heard over the years:

  1. Channel conflict – Most manufacturers go to market via distributors and resellers.  If they started to sell direct to consumers, the logic goes, they would dis-intermediate their distribution channel.  Not a great idea if you want to maintain a steady revenue forecast and make it difficult for your competitor’s products to reach the market.
  2. Ill-equipped warehouses – It’s a lot easier to build, price, package and ship products by the pallet and truckload than it is to break them up, pick, pack and ship them in small individual envelops and boxes.  Ask Amazon how much they spend per year on their warehouses and logistics therein.
  3. Lack of Sales and Marketing – It takes “feet on the street” to educate and sell products to consumers, especially industrial products.  Aside from carrying local inventory and handling customer services and repair, selling in the territory is the main value add of the distribution channel…theoretically.
  4. No eCommerce infrastructure (or expertise) – Industrial manufacturers are only now starting to get into the B2B eCommerce game in a big way.  Figuring out how to deal with the potentially larger order volumes, the need to process credit cards in a secure manner, provide rich content and support a myriad of marketing programs is beyond the reach of the traditional CSR who knows how to answer the phone and walk over to the fax machine to receive orders.  Frankly, we’re still seeing loads of paper catalogs being produced on a regular basis (check you mailbox lately?).

In spite of these obstacles, thanks to Pfizer’s action and given the financially tempting reward of reclaiming some of those margins that Manufacturers “give away” to their distribution channel, more and more of you will turn your lust into B2C action.

But you’ll need a strategy and a plan.  We can’t help with the first three items on your obstacle list.  Although we can certainly have you speak with some of our clients who would love to share their challenges and what they’ve done to overcome them.

However, the good news is that SAP Manufacturers need not worry about the fourth concern,  “No eCommerce infrastructure or expertise”.  We’ve got that covered nicely at b2b2dot0 :-).  Just ask some of our clients like tng Worldwide, Office Relief and The Cycling Sports Group who are using the very same Magento/b2b2dot0/SAP platform to reach both of their B2B and B2C audiences.  Most all of our other clients have either tackled one or the other of their B2B or B2C markets first, but they all have thoughts/plans in place to make the crossover sometime down the road.

So take inspiration from Pfizer.

If you’re seeing your products (or worse yet, counterfeit products) showing up on eBay or Amazon, or any of the more nefarious websites out there, start thinking about reclaiming your brand and margins.

If you’re not happy with the performance of your distribution network and think you can do better if you only had the budget, start putting together that plan.

Because with b2b2dot0 “you can be ready any time the moment’s right”.

🙂

SamPfizer’s Viagra Legitimizes B2C eCommerce for Manufacturers, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating