Marketplaces are on the rise in procurement, and for good reason. They streamline the buying process for procurement teams, offering access to a wide assortment of products from pre-vetted sellers, and easily adapt to the buying processes for procurement organizations.
In 2020, we’re seeing another of the benefits of online marketplaces for procurement play out in real time. In the face of fragmented supply chains and fast-rising demand for critical supplies during COVID-19, online marketplaces are filling the gap, giving healthcare organizations access to the supplies they need.
Premier offers one-stop shopping and a trusted online source for medical supplies with stockd
Premier is a leading healthcare improvement company with one of the largest group purchasing organizations for healthcare in the United States. It unites an alliance of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems, along with approximately 175,000 other healthcare and non-healthcare providers. Its recently launched marketplace, stockd, is an easy-to-use online platform, enabling cost and time savings for members through greater selection, price and convenience. And thanks to the flexibility of the marketplace model, it's offering much more than savings for member organizations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, stockd has become a critical source for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies that have been difficult to find through traditional channels. Demand is high: monthly site visits increased more than fivefold between January and April, and Premier is growing its inventory quickly in response, adding 165,000 SKUs from 40+ suppliers since launch.
The reason for this remarkable growth is simple. Skilled nursing and assisted living providers, physician’s practices, essential businesses like construction firms, and other organizations all need access to protective equipment. But these small-to-medium sized businesses may not be able to leverage the same volume discounts and product access that larger healthcare providers have. With the stockd marketplace, Premier is leveling the playing field – at a time when access is more important than ever.
Using the power of the marketplace model to protect essential workers
With skyrocketing demand and fragmented supply chains, access to critical supplies isn’t the only challenge facing healthcare providers and essential businesses. Buyers are also facing the possibility of unsafe or counterfeit equipment – and encountering bad actors who are taking advantage of demand to raise prices.
In addition to thoroughly vetting suppliers for stockd, Premier is using its expertise to keep essential workers safe. John Sganga, Senior Vice President, Alternate Site Programs at Premier, explained to us how Premier is using stockd to keep buyers informed and protected: “Since day one, we’ve worked with third-party sellers on our marketplace to protect our buyers in multiple ways, including preventing price gouging. During COVID-19, we’ve been able to advance that mission by using stockd to disseminate helpful information, such as alternative production methodologies for masks and gowns, and have helped guide safe purchasing practices that avert supply chain fraud.”
stockd isn’t a one-off success. The marketplace model is solving these supply chain issues across the globe. In France, the government partnered with Mirakl to develop StopCOVID19.fr, a marketplace that offers French healthcare organizations and other public & private institutions a trusted online source for critical supplies, backed by the government.
Launched in just 48 hours, demand for the solution has been consistently high, and the marketplace scaled fast. Since its launch at the end of March, more than 8,100 member institutions have purchased over 53 million units of hand sanitizing gel and protective equipment through the platform. Just a few weeks later, UniHA (Union des Hôpitaux pour les Achats), a collaborative buying group for French hospitals, launched an online marketplace as well, offering protective equipment and other products exclusively to its members. And now, as France begins to reopen, the StopCOVID19 platform is expanding, offering the sanitation services and products that businesses need to operate in this new normal.
The world is changing – and procurement is changing with it
It’s easy to attribute the proliferation of marketplaces for healthcare procurement to COVID-19, and there’s no denying that the pandemic has played a starring role. But what we’re really seeing is an acceleration event. COVID-19 is speeding up an evolution that was already emerging at the onset of this crisis.
The proliferation of online marketplaces for procurement may start with protective equipment, but it won’t end there. Marketplaces offer a vast number of benefits that will remain long after the pandemic is over. As procurement organizations realize the convenience, efficiency, and savings that marketplaces can offer, they’ll be looking for much more than masks and gloves. They’ll be looking for platforms that make everyday procurement faster and easier – and first movers like Premier are one step ahead.