For any consumer service company, building a B2B business is both difficult and lucrative. Lucrative because companies are generally a collection of people. If you can convince companies to buy from you for their employees, you have a large group of customers at once.
Difficult because businesses usually don’t have incentives to buy consumer products. B2B deal cycles are longer. Moreover, even if a company buys a service for or on behalf of their employees, it does not guarantee that employees will end up using the service. What management sees as a necessity for their employees might turn out otherwise in the eyes of employees. All these misalignments create challenges.
There are exceptions where incentives align but that is not the general scenario.
AmarLab, a fast-growing digital healthcare company based in Dhaka, falls in the category of exception in this regard. The company has slowly been building a fascinating multi-pronged B2B business.
Let’s begin with a recap. AmarLab has a B2B component to its business — the company works with diagnostic labs to deliver at-home diagnostic services. It has successfully built relationships with a large number of labs including prominent ones such as Ibn Sina, Popular, among others.
It has a transactional relationship with these labs. The distinction is that this B2B relationship (with labs) enables its customer service business.
When customers order a test on the AmarLab website, it goes to one of these labs of customers’ choosing. Amarlab operates as a two-sided platform where it bridges customers and labs. This model is distinct and does not fall into the regular B2B definition.
What happens next, however, gets really intriguing. Using its expertise, Amarlab is now building three more B2B businesses and interestingly, each amplifies its existing consumer healthcare service business.
First, Amarlab has developed a solution for healthcare organizations such as hospitals and diagnostic labs that don’t have the capacity or plan to do an at-home collection service. Amarlab enables them to provide at-home pathology services. Hospitals and labs don’t need to create in-house teams for home sample collection. They can provide at-home collection services through AmarLab. AmarLab works as an at-home collection services delivery partner for these organizations. AmarLab says it currently works with two healthcare organizations that have outsourced their at-home collection services delivery to the company and are in discussion with a few others.
Second, Amarlab has been increasing its focus on B2B customers—organizations and businesses. The thesis is simple: Businesses and organizations can collaborate with AmarLab to offer healthcare benefits to their employees at an affordable price. The push has started paying off. It has already partnered with several corporations to deliver employee health benefits.
These days, employee healthcare benefits are common. Organizations are increasingly offering employee healthcare benefits as a way to improve employee retention and performance. It makes sense for companies and shows that the organization cares about its employees. AmarLab aims to tap into this sentiment to enable employers to provide healthcare benefits to their employees. This is a promising yet relatively untapped market in Bangladesh. There are a number of challenges, as I’ve mentioned previously. Nevertheless, the potential is huge.
Finally, the company has partnered with other healthcare service providers who operate in relevant verticals such as doctor consultation, medicine delivery, etc to bundle its service.
Healthcare is an integrated service in nature. A patient who consults a doctor also needs diagnostic service and medicine delivery. But while bundling is lucrative, it is often expensive and infeasible for most providers to do it alone. AmarLab has taken a new approach to bundling. Instead of trying to do it all, the company collaborates with other service providers who sit both above and below it in the healthcare value chain and enjoys the benefits of its position. The strategy makes sense at this stage of its operation. It also makes Amarlab’s solution lucrative to business since it makes healthcare services easily accessible to employees.
For a company like Amarlab, building a B2B business is a balancing act. In this article, we will explore how AmarLab has matured its B2B strategy and built a growing B2B operation.
The beginning: Unbundling AmarLab’s B2B solutions
AmarLab was founded in 2017 with a stated vision of providing proactive healthcare to everyone. The company has always wanted to serve a large number of people — making healthcare easily accessible to everyone, everywhere. In fact, reaching a large mass of customers is critical for the success of Amarlab.
To that end, AmarLab has been working on B2B healthcare solutions alongside its direct customer service from the beginning. The company saw an opportunity in the vertical early on. The plan was to promote proactive healthcare to more people through their organization. The move has fulfilled two objectives for AmarLab: building greater awareness and reaching a large number of customers at once. Furthermore, it did so using its existing resources.
AmarLab B2B solutions can generally be classified into four types:
Lab Outsourcing. This works in two ways. AmarLab works with several diagnostics labs to deliver at-home diagnostics services. For instance, a customer or employee of a particular company may prefer to avail the service of a certain lab, AmarLab always considers that preference and manages the service from that particular lab accordingly.
Second, AmarLab enables lab and hospital partners to outsource their at-home diagnostics services delivery. Many labs and hospitals don’t have the proper setup for delivering at-home diagnostics services. For others, running such an operation does not make sense financially. Since AmarLab specializes in at-home diagnostics services delivery, it can provide customized solutions to run on-demand at-home diagnostics services to any organization. Lab partners usually integrate AmarLab into their service delivery process. When there is a requirement for at-home collection, it gets forwarded to AmarLab.
While these two services appear similar, they can’t be any more different. AmarLab as a platform is a demand aggregator. It operates more like a marketplace for diagnostics labs. Customers come to its platform, choose a test and a lab, and AmarLab collects the sample, does the test from the customer’s chosen lab, and delivers the report. In this instance, AmarLab aggregates the order and sends the orders to the labs.
When AmarLab works directly with a lab as an enabler for at-home diagnostics service delivery, AmarLab no longer aggregates demand from customers, it instead serves the orders of the lab. AmarLab works more like a software and logistics company that provides a system to the labs to deliver at-home diagnostics service.
Employee health benefits solution. For the employees of corporate houses, AmarLab offers attractive and special corporate health packages at discounted prices.
Health camp for employees. AmarLab arranges corporate health camps for the employees of its business partners. Mostly, the health campaigns are run following the mutual agreement so that the employees can receive routine health checkups.
Value-added service. AmarLab collaborates with several healthcare services partners. Through these partnerships, it offers various value-added services to the employees of different organizations. At the same time, different service providers provide AmarLab service as value addition or special offers to their clients.
Employee health benefits: a growing trend
Health benefits for employees is a growing global trend. It has been found that company-wide health benefits improve employee performance and retention. While the trend is yet to go mainstream in Bangladesh, it is catching up fast. AmarLab aims to tap into the growing opportunity in space.
When companies take care of their people, it directly impacts their bottom and top line. Employee performance is the ultimate source of growth for any company.
Now, employee performance depends on a lot of things: pay, benefits, culture, and so on. It also depends on employee health and loyalty. When people are loyal they put in their best effort.
Loyalty is built on care. When a company cares for its people, its people care back. Offering health benefits is one way for companies to show that they care. This is one of the reasons a growing number of companies today provide health benefits to employees.
AmarLab makes it easier for companies to provide healthcare benefits to employees. AmarLab not only provides special packages of pathological services but also ensures at-home diagnostics services for the employees of the partner organizations.
In some cases, many large organizations require diagnostic services for a large number of workers and employees. AmarLab gives them the opportunity of lab tests at the workplace making it easier for both the employees and organizations. AmarLab says these supports have made AmarLab a preferred option for a growing number of companies for regular employee pathology tests.
The company now aims to double down on growth. It plans to further improve its B2B products and work with a greater number of companies in the coming days. While it currently mostly works with large organizations, the company is also working on solutions aimed at small businesses and startups.
The company says the ambition with its B2B products is to help make employee healthcare benefits universal in Bangladesh by enabling companies to provide healthcare to their people easily.
The state of AmarLab’s B2B solutions
AmarLab’s B2B solutions have experienced excellent growth within a short period. AmarLab currently works with two major labs as an outsourcing partner: Popular Diagnostic Center and Islami Bank Hospital. AmarLab manages at-home diagnostic services delivery for these two labs. The company says it has built a solution that can enable any lab to seamlessly run its at-home diagnostic delivery services.
Delivering on-demand at-home diagnostics services is a complex process. For many labs, it is not profitable to do it in-house. For others, building a separate operation is a major logistical challenge. AmarLab has built an excellent solution to provide at-home diagnostics services. The company has built world-class process, kit, and service quality standards for this purpose alone. It makes perfect sense for labs to partner with AmarLab to run their at-home diagnostics services.
Given the rise of on-demand services, at-home diagnostics services is a growing trend. As more labs and hospitals adopt the trend, it should create greater demand for the AmarLab solution.
AmarLab has also partnered with several reputed healthcare service providers including Maya, Pulse, DocTime, Home and Community Care Ltd. (HCCL), Zaynax, etc. The users of these healthcare partners can take AmarLab services. This allows AmarLab to collect additional demands from these partners, many of whom sit atop AmarLab in the healthcare services value chain. For instance, diagnostics usually follow doctor consultation. So it makes sense for AmarLab to partner with companies that provide doctor consultation services. Similarly, for those companies adding AmarLab to their services list improves their customer experience.
The company, however, has made it clear that it does not get into product extension anytime soon. It wants to focus on at-home diagnostics services and become the best in the vertical. For other services, it plans to partner with relevant service providers.
On its B2B customer business, the company has built affiliation with over 20 different large corporate houses where AmarLab arranges various health campaigns for their employees. It has also partnered with major brands and service providers like GP Star, Bkash, Apex where they offer AmarLab’s pathology service value to their customers.
The company also runs various CSR activities that include health camps in schools, colleges, and other educational institutions free of cost.
The market response for AmarLab’s diagnostic service has been overwhelming so far. The company says the corporate houses that avail its healthcare service are satisfied with its services. This has led to a new demand spurt for its services. Today, several renowned business associations such as BASIS, BIP are taking AmarLab service for their office staff and member organization employees. AmarLab also provides special support for various non-profit projects regularly for their employees.
Building for competitive advantage
AmarLab is a unique platform where patients can select a test, their preferred diagnostic center and get the test done sitting at the comfort of their home or office and get the test report delivered on time. AmarLab has built a system to deliver quality at-home diagnostics service in Bangladesh. The company now offers an hourly window for booking which means you can book your test in an hour, which is more efficient than getting a test from a physical location.
There is no other healthcare platform in Bangladesh that gives you the freedom to choose a lab for diagnostic tests from multiple options and compare test prices and get the test done from your home within a scheduled time.
AmarLab has built a strong moat by embedding quality into everything it does. It maintains strict quality guidelines and verifies the service of every lab partner regularly. The company even goes for retrial on tests when necessary. The service is economical in all aspects from ordering tests to delivering the report — AmarLab charges only BDT 250 as a service charge and there are no hidden charges or extra fees for report delivery.