In short Compression products can be the starting point to a lasting relationship between the customer and the medical retail store. Daniel Niklas, Managing Director of Stortz GmbH in Cologne, attaches great importance to providing expert advice. This is the only way to communicate the tangible benefits of products requiring co-payment. The mid- and higher-priced product segment is essential for the economic success of the retail sector – and this area will become even more important. In a detailed consultation, the relevant quality features of a compression product can be explained to the customer, who often doesn’t prefer a certain brand (yet). This advice includes instructions on how to put on and care for the product and sets the course for the way ahead – because customers rarely change their familiar compression stocking later on. The wearing comfort largely depends on correct measurements, which must be taken at the appropriate time. Here, the no-contact Bodytronic measurement has become very popular, not least during the pandemic. The range of products subject to co-payment is an important commercial pillar for the future of the medical retail sector. Customers prefer discreet colors and designs for compression products, but new requirements are also emerging, for example for medical aids from climate-neutral production.
Compression stockings/ Venous disorders
Thinking in terms of solutions
Compression garments and customer loyalty
From Bauerfeind Life Magazin
In medical supply retail stores, compression products are often the starting point of a long customer relationship. Daniel Niklas, Managing Director of Stortz GmbH in Cologne, emphasizes the importance of expert advice when it comes to all aspects of compression. Customers need to be provided with detailed information about quality and comfort features to understand the advantages of products that require co-payment. At this point, the course for the future is set because customers hardly ever switch once they become accustomed to a product.
The labyrinthine house in Cologne bears testimony to history and tradition. “Here are the supports, the compression products are over there, and back there, we have the room with the Bodytronic measurement technology,” Daniel Niklas opens a door, another one, then there is a short corridor, and a staircase. The managing director of Stortz GmbH, founded in 1870, is not only proud to present the range of aids and medical products he offers on 2,600 square meters within a stone’s throw of Neumarkt Square. It is also important to him that Stortz can provide supply reliability and that customers do not have to wait long thanks to their large inventory.
Focus on expert advice
The spacious sales counters and consultation rooms demonstrate that extensive advice is a top priority at this family-owned business. “The conversation with the customer,” explains Stortz Managing Director Niklas, “is front and center when supplying medical products. For example, when someone is prescribed a compression stocking for the first time, they have no idea what to look out for, of course. We provide them with knowledge and explain specific high-quality features that will become obvious when handling and wearing the product and that will make a difference. Detailed advice lays the foundation for good compliance.”
Satisfied customers don’t switch
In times of high inflation and soaring energy prices, co-payment is a topic that also concerns medical supply retailers. Tightening budgets are likely to have an impact on the industry. This is why maintaining customer relationships will become even more relevant in the future, speculates Daniel Niklas, because a high level of commitment when it comes to selling and providing advice will be crucial for businesses to succeed in the mid-range and higher price segments. This is also important because, once customers are comfortable with a particular product and used to it, they very rarely switch brands. So, the course for the way ahead is set right then and there. “When it comes to flat-knit and circular-knit products, Bauerfeind is our go-to manufacturer,” emphasizes Managing Director Niklas, “VenoTrain micro, soft and curaflow are indispensable for us, especially in terms of customer satisfaction.” At Stortz, it is the compression products – in addition to patient-centered advice – that keep customers coming back. Together with rehabilitative care, the corsetry and compression therapy segments are the most important product ranges. These products can be used as a starting point for establishing a trusting and lasting relationship with new customers. Niklas makes a point of maintaining long-term relationships with aid manufacturers such as Bauerfeind: “We view this as a partnership – why would we keep changing?”
Compression and comfort are not contradictory
Products like compression stockings have the stigma of being a “necessary evil.” “But wearing comfort and compression are not a contradiction in terms,” underlines Niklas, “The VenoTrain range contains numerous designs and adaptations that allow us to offer optimal care. Typical problems include pressure marks, feelings of tightness, chafing, sweating, a burning sensation at the soles and stretched out silicone borders. All this can be prevented by using high-quality products.” Professional measurements are crucial. “As a special service, we offer non-contact measuring with the Bodytronic body scanner. Our orthopedic technician can also measure by hand, but the contact-free method has been taken advantage of a lot, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. Ideally, we measure at a time of day when the leg is still decongested. If necessary, we can also arrange to perform pneumatic compression therapy before measuring, as an individual out-of-pocket service.”
In training courses, Stortz employees keep up to date and exchange information with manufacturers, for example about customer requests. “Fashionable looks, such as in colors or the design of the silicone border, play less of a role in compression products than you might think. Customers rather stay discreet, they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.” And yet, new demands are emerging from time to time, for example in terms of sustainability. Retailers forward the information about new customer needs quickly to the manufacturers: “And when talking to Bauerfeind,” says Niklas, “I always find that Bauerfeind doesn’t think in terms of problems, but in terms of solutions.”
Thanks to the varied assortment of Bauerfeind support and compression stockings, doctors, medical supply retailers and nursing staff can ensure the best possible individualized patient care. In the VenoTrain range, a wide variety of conditions and symptoms, from heavy legs and spider veins to leg ulcers and lipedema and/or lymphedema, is matched with the appropriate treatment options. The products are available in different compression classes, styles and lengths as well as in various material designs, attractive colors and with different silicone borders. Specially defined compression socks and knee-high stockings for sports round off the range.
Images: Bauerfeind, Stefan Durstewitz