Shopping Cart View in Supermarket Aisle Milk Yogurt Frozen Food Freezer and Shelves with customer defocus background (Image:Kwangmoozaa/iStock)

In this digital age, consumers are not only accustomed to shopping online but oftentimes prefer it to other means of shopping.

In fact, according to a Marketing Dive analysis of Criteo data, 75% of young consumers prefer to do most shopping online when they can out of convenience. This is no different when it comes to health insurance.

(Related: Millennials Now Own Businesses. Can You Meet Their Needs?)

The services provided by the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces bridge the gap between the online shopping experience that small business owners have come to crave and the expertise needed from licensed agents.

Marketplaces also shift some of the shopping experience directly to the small business owner, which saves time and money for the agency. This has a direct impact on the margins and makes this business segment more profitable for agencies. Less time spent face to face with clients or communicating back and forth with small business owners means brokers and agents have more time to sell to more clients.

Here are 3 reasons why brokers and agents should encourage small business owners to shop for health insurance via a marketplace.

1. Modern Shopping Experience

Gallup research has shown that millennials are twice as likely to buy insurance online. Through the technology provided by online health insurance marketplaces, agents and brokers can deliver a modern digital experience to their younger small business clients, who favor a digital experience; This means providing their clients with the freedom to browse and compare their own options on their own schedule.

2. Improving Margins and Profitability

Without the use of online marketplaces, getting small-group clients enrolled in health insurance can be a seemingly never-ending stream of tedious emails, phone calls, and spreadsheets. Enabling small business owners to shop and compare their options in an instant, online, simplifies the process and results in quicker, more informed enrollments. This time savings means that you will spend fewer hours closing deals and will have a direct impact on your agency’s bottom line.

3. Increasing Agency Revenues

Agents and brokers who use online health insurance marketplaces for their small-group clients can sell multiple lines of coverage on a national level thanks to user-friendly technology. Upselling is necessary to improve margins and an online experience allows a small business owner to browse without pressure. It may also help an agent see a small business product interest that they may not have been aware of. They can drastically increase their sales while growing their book of business, which at the end of the day is a goal for any agency or broker.

In the ever-changing insurance industry, brokers and agents are beginning to embrace the trends and tools that can ultimately make their jobs easier while also appealing to an emerging new customer base that desires a more digital experience. This need is even more necessary in the small group space as margins continue to get tighter and demands continue to increase. Utilizing a small group marketplace greatly benefits both the small business owner and the agency.

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Sally Pobelte (Photo: Wellthie)

Sally Poblete is the chief executive officer of Wellthie, a company that works to make buying and using health insurance simpler. She previously was a product development leader at a unit of Anthem Inc.