Is online marketplace disrupting the traditional supply chain models in the social care sector?

Although a bit slow, the social care sector has started realising the benefit of using technology to improve business efficiency. Currently, the social care sector depends on traditional models of the supply chain to get their supplies of consumables, equipment and services. 

As the sector is big and heavily fragmented, bringing one size fits all solution is 'nearly' impossible. But it is still possible. 

The current models of the supply chain in the care home sector:

  1. Traditional suppliers 
  2. Tendering 
  3. Procurement agencies
  4. Buying from random online shops


Traditional suppliers 

These are established small and big suppliers who source products from manufacturers or other sellers. Very few cover all the products needed for a care business, in fact, none. This model can be convenient that you get your weekly deliveries by the same person or drivers. As most care businesses buy the same items each week, this model seems to be the preferred. Traditional suppliers tend to change their prices depending on the purchase quantities. Smaller care business will have to pay a higher rate than one who owns more than five care organisations. As it becomes convenient to source from just one supplier, care business tends to forget to check if they are getting the best deals. They lose out if they do not review the prices at least once in a year. As the prices may not be visible for the Managers, there will be no control on the purchase if it is not monitored. Short terms 'perks' may influence Managers to order from the same suppliers. (Not realising the cost of fancy pens offered is in thousands). 


Tendering process

It is usually the corporates who do have a tendering process to get their suppliers. They demand extensive quality standards such as ISO certifications to supply to them. Often, they get good deals. Sometimes the bidding on price alone may be a step into risking the quality of service. Usually, Managers order from their allocated company based on their allocated budgets. Most Managers spend it for the sake of 'spending' the budget if not, budget is reduced next year. A small organisation will not have the resources to do this exercise.


Procurement agencies and consortium

Some companies help care business to get better deals by bidding from different suppliers. Most of the time, they should be able to find a supplier who can get a better deal for the customer. Some consortium works similarly, grouping smaller business together to bid prices from chosen suppliers. The problem with procurement agencies is that they take a commission either from the supplier for ongoing sale; the actual commission may not always be revealed to the customer. Some consortium will be able to negotiate fixed discounts for its members, some even offering rebates. Receiving a cheque seems the happiest thing in the world, but not realising this money is paid by yourself in the first place. 


Buying from random online shops

Most care business does not have preferred suppliers. As the order size is small, they shop around from places like Amazon, eBay and other online shops. Most companies don't realise the value of time wasted for online browsing, costs more on different aspects of the business. Sometimes, will be able to save money here and there, but the actual cost, including the time used, is not calculated. Most of the online shops do not offer the same quality standards needed for the social care sector. 


What is the future for the social care supply chain?

COVID brought the big realisation that relying on a few preferred suppliers will be a significant risk to the care business. We created to help any credible sellers to reach out to the social care market easily. With the current model getting to the social care market is very costly.

Having a social care online market place have the following benefits:

  • Bigger and smaller care business get the same benefit.
  • New sellers with innovative products can reach out to the sector without a barrier. 
  • Costly tendering process can be avoided. 
  • Care business can trust the suppliers, as the team at already verifies them. 
  • Care business can buy products and services based on real purchase reviews visible along with each product. 
  • Care business can choose their preferred products from different sellers. There is no tie-in contract!
  • Free use of the Care Inventory Manager (CIM) to check your usage between different locations.
  • Compare prices online without wasting time on extensive 'internet browsing'. 
  • Get the best deals from multiple suppliers. (Not just your preferred ones). 
  • People can buy anything from - from physical products, services and digital products. 
  • Get overwhelmed with choice. Choice in price, quality and delivery! 

A sector-specific online market place is the way forward for the social care sector. We are making it happen! If you believe, it is true, speak to us on how we can help your care business in getting the best deals. 

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