COVID-19 showed the world just how important medical supplies are—and how urgent things can get if providers can't access them.

In the post-pandemic economy, everyday consumers and healthcare providers buy medical supplies like gloves, masks, mobility aids, blood pressure cuffs, and more.

It’s a niche space, but medical supply businesses fill a crucial need in the market for reliable goods at competitive prices that are, in some cases, truly life-saving.

There’s no need to rent a physical storefront, either. With the right strategies, you can set up an online store selling medical supplies in just a few hours.

Setting up an eCommerce site is pretty simple. Still, since you’re selling in the healthcare industry, there are additional steps you need to take, including consulting a lawyer and becoming compliant, before creating your medical supply company.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to set up an online medical supply business, from overcoming common challenges to a step-by-step guide to making your dream a reality. 

Common Barriers To Starting a Medical Supply Business


A medical supply business is a lucrative niche for eCommerce, but it’s not without its challenges. As a prospective entrepreneur, you have to navigate hurdles that could affect your ability to make a living.

These aren’t insurmountable problems, but you need to be aware of them before joining the medical supply industry. 

Regulatory Requirements and Insurance

You can’t just sell just any medical devices or items online. In most areas, you need licensing and permits to sell these kinds of items. As we saw during the pandemic, bootlegged hand sanitizer and alcohol were big problems, so industry regulators take licensing and safety very seriously.

The license you need depends on what you plan on selling and who you want to sell it to. For example, if you operate as a durable medical equipment (DME) wholesaler, you’ll sell medical supplies to pharmacies, hospitals, and other providers.

In turn, these organizations resell medical supplies to the consumers. Depending on your business model, if you choose to sell directly to consumers as a DME retailer, you may need to secure a separate license in each state where you operate.

You also need to look into insurance. Coverage not only protects your medical supply business from general liability but also covers claims for:

  • Equipment failure
  • Delivery mishaps
  • Operational hazards

You may need more robust coverage for this type of business than a different type of eCommerce store. Make sure you have comprehensive coverage to not only comply with regulations but also to preserve your livelihood. 

Healthcare Regulations

There are, understandably, a lot of regulations in the healthcare industry. You have to follow all regulations and meet strict safety standards to sell in the United States.

For example, you may need to comply with HIPAA patient privacy laws or FDA regulations for certain medical devices.

Medical and healthcare stores are more regulated, and falling out of compliance could have disastrous consequences. Before opening your medical supply business, it’s best to work with an auditor or lawyer to get your ducks in a row. 

Supply Chain Management and Quality Assurance

Every eCommerce store has to deal with supply chain challenges, but healthcare products aren’t easy to manage. For one, you have to worry about potentially bootlegged products.

Quality concerns, especially when working with a new vendor, are also common. 

Implement rigorous testing procedures, regularly audit your vendors, and collect feedback from the healthcare professionals you sell to.

It’s more work, but effective quality assurance protects your reputation and fosters trust with the healthcare facilities that rely on you.


Every eCommerce store deals with competition of some kind, and medical supply stores are no different. The medical supply industry is very competitive, with players ranging from small, niche companies to large medical supply companies. 

You’ll deal with competition in any industry, so it’s critical to understand the current landscape and set your medical supply business apart from the rest. Conduct a thorough competitive analysis to understand what competitors offer in terms of product features and pricing.

From there, leverage your unique selling points to attract a competition-proof customer base. For example, maybe you sell similar products to the competition but offer amazing returns policies or 24/7 customer service. In many cases, that could be enough to net you more sales than established players.

7 Steps To Set up a Medical Supply Business

Creating a medical supply business requires careful planning. The medical supply industry is competitive, but the right strategy will set you up for long-term success.

Follow these tips to build a solid foundation for your online medical supply store. 

1. Choose a Business Model

First things first, decide what kind of medical supply business you want to run. In this case, you’ll need to decide between a B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) business model.


With this model, you sell directly to other businesses like hospitals, insurance companies, and independent medical practices. It involves larger orders and potentially long-term contracts, providing a more stable stream of income.

However, the sales cycle can be lengthy and complex, requiring extensive negotiations and careful compliance with industry regulations. 


With B2C, you sell directly to the public, usually through an online eCommerce site. It allows for quicker sales cycles and direct feedback from these shoppers.

However, B2C is pretty competitive, and you’ll need to spend more time and effort on marketing to build consumer trust and brand recognition.

The purchase amounts are generally much lower than B2B, too, so you’ll need to attract a higher volume of customers to stay profitable. 

Neither business model is better than the other; it just comes down to the products you want to sell (more on that in a moment) and how you envision the company running. 

Once you’ve decided on a general model, identify your target market.

Are you focusing on large healthcare institutions like hospitals, or are you catering to smaller practices such as medical spas, urgent care clinics, or home healthcare providers?

Each segment has different needs and purchasing behaviors.

For example, large institutions might prioritize reliability and cost-effectiveness due to their size, while smaller practices might value personalized service and quick delivery.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do, draft a detailed business plan. This should outline your:

  • Business model
  • Financial projections
  • Marketing strategies
  • Operational structure

This is a great way to flesh out what you want the business to look like. Plus, having a business plan could help you get funding from financial institutions or investors down the line.

2. Pick Your Niche and Products

The medical industry is pretty niche already, but you can niche down even more by focusing on a small product category. 

The medical industry has many niches that cater to different healthcare market segments. 

Here are just a few options to consider:

  • Disposable medical supplies: Items like gloves, masks, and syringes will always be popular. These products have steady demand because they’re single-use, making them a consistent best-seller.
  • Durable medical equipment: This category includes products like wheelchairs, hospital beds, and oxygen concentrators. These items are necessary for patient care, and insurance usually pays for them, which could help you get steady sales.
  • Aesthetic products: Higher-margin items like cosmetic enhancements cater to medical spas and cosmetic surgeons. This is still part of the medical supply industry, but often has fewer regulatory hurdles compared to other products. 
  • Diagnostic tools: This includes products like blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes, thermometers, and glucose meters. These products diagnose health issues and are essential in pretty much every healthcare setting, giving you a wide audience of potential buyers.
  • Lab supplies: These products are used in medical labs for testing and research, usually for diagnosing diseases. It includes products like Petri dishes, microscopes, pipettes, and test tubes.

Of course, not every niche or product is a winner. Carefully consider the products you want to sell by weighing these criteria.

Market Demand

Opt for products with established demand within your target market. Research what healthcare providers or consumers frequently need and value.


If you want to launch quickly, avoid products that require FDA approval, which is long and expensive. Sell proven products with an established need over new products that require research and development (R&D).


What do the profit margins look like? Disposable items often have lower margins but higher turnover rates, while durable equipment and aesthetic products usually offer higher margins but require more of an upfront investment.


How many other medical supply companies sell these products? The less competition there is, the easier it is for you to establish yourself in the space more quickly. If the niche is already saturated, consider something else.

For example, maybe the disposable glove market is already established, but you could make a name for yourself by selling high-quality hearing aids. 

3. Build a Brand

Selling medical supplies online comes with its own set of concerns, but you’re still creating a company! Don’t overlook the essential step of building a trustworthy brand. Reputation is everything in healthcare, so build a brand primed to earn the trust of healthcare providers from the start. 

Brand your medical supply business by:

  • Determining your USP: Your unique selling proposition is what separates you from all the other sellers in the medical supply industry. If you can’t differentiate yourself with unique products, consider other differentiators like fast shipping, a better user experience, or convenient online shopping.
  • Choosing a business name: Avoid future legal troubles by checking if a business name is already taken in your state. Now isn’t the time to be cute or punny—select a descriptive, professional medical supply business name that spells out exactly what you offer.
  • Creating a logo: Ideally, you should work with a professional graphic designer to create a descriptive, professional logo.
  • Outlining a style guide: This document tells employees and contractors your business’s vibe. It should include voice and tone guidelines for written communication, approved logos, and color palettes.

4. Cover the Legalities

A typical eCommerce store wouldn’t need to worry about regulations as much, but a medical supply business needs to sort out the legalities before selling a single product.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so your best bet is to hire a lawyer with healthcare industry experience. Your business setup, products, and location will dictate what you need to do, but you’ll likely need:

  • Business permits: You’ll need the typical permits for any retail business, which includes a resale permit, sales and use tax permit, and a “doing business as” (DBA) certificate. Don’t forget to set reminders to pay your monthly sales tax!
  • Incorporation: This is optional, but setting your store up as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) could limit your liability in case of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. This does have implications for the legal and tax structure of your medical supply business, though, so work with an attorney to decide on the best structure.
  • EIN: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can issue you an employer identification number (EIN), which you’ll need if you plan to hire employees. Having an EIN is also a good idea, as you don’t have to share your social security number on business documents.
  • Medical licensing: Certain medical devices, like insulin pumps, are federally regulated. You may need to go through additional compliance checks if you sell these.
  • Insurance: Every business should have insurance, but it’s extra important when you sell medical supplies. Get coverage for general liability, employee-related risks, and property damage at a minimum. You may want to buy up on umbrella coverage depending on your personal risk tolerance.

5. Find Reliable Suppliers

With a dropshipping setup, you rely on suppliers to source, store, and ship products for you.

This is a smart way to reduce startup costs and the liability of holding onto lots of inventory, but it means you need solid suppliers.

Dependable suppliers ensure that you have a steady flow of high-quality products to meet the demands of your customers, which is critical for maintaining your reputation and boosting operational efficiency. 

We recommend working with more than one supplier on the off chance that one runs out of products. The downside is that it can get complicated working with multiple suppliers. 

That’s why so many medical supply businesses rely on Spark Shipping’s automation tool. We integrate with major suppliers like McKesson and Medline to streamline medical supply dropshipping. Manage inventory, automate pricing updates, fulfill orders, and send customers tracking updates from the same platform, hands-free.

6. Streamline for Efficiency

Starting an eCommerce website in the healthcare industry takes time. You need to focus on serving customers and staying compliant—not copy-pasting data from your suppliers’ spreadsheets.

Build a scalable medical supply business from the start by embracing automation. Spark Shipping client Bisco Health went from managing their store manually to saving hours every day with automatic order fulfillment and intelligent order routing.

Their inventory is always up-to-date, and the system always buys from the cheapest provider, ensuring both customer satisfaction and the best possible margins. It’s a win-win!

Automation solutions are the smartest way to run a scalable eCommerce shop, so don’t be afraid to automate the more time-consuming aspects of running your store. 

7. Market Yourself and Find Customers

After setting up your medical supply business and online store, it’s time to attract shoppers! Marketing this type of business requires a blend of traditional and modern approaches. 

Relationship Marketing

The healthcare industry is suspicious of newcomers, so the best way to get in with buyers is to forge trusting relationships with medical professionals. Attend industry events, like medical trade shows or health fairs, to network in person.

This allows you to directly interact with potential clients and understand their needs, which could lead to more long-term business relationships. You won't find new customers overnight, so plan to spend at least a few months rubbing elbows with providers to boost your reputation.

Incentivize Purchases

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Incentives like free shipping, exclusive deals on new products, and competitive pricing for bulk purchases give shoppers a tangible reason to choose you over everyone else in the space. Loyalty programs are also a great way to reward repeat customers while encouraging consistent orders. 

Multichannel Marketing

With your store on autopilot, you’re free to spend the bulk of your energy marketing your medical supply business.

Traditional marketing techniques like flyers, print coupons, and local sponsorships can help you snag a few orders, but digital marketing is the best way to scale up your store on a budget.

Search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) help you reach your target audience by driving traffic to your website. 

SEO and social media are basically free and just require time and consistency, while you’ll need a budget for PPC. 

Boost Your Medical Supply Business With Automation


Starting a successful medical supply business involves careful planning and understanding the complexities of the healthcare industry. Market research, legal compliance, and automation are the secret ingredients in this profitable space, so do your homework to emerge as the top dog in the medical supply space.

You don’t need to find piecemeal automation, either. Spark Shipping combines price automation, vendor mapping, order fulfillment, and much more in one platform.

See the difference for yourself: Schedule your Spark Shipping demo now.