As Indianapolis-based orthodontist Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS, puts it: Discovering great orthodontic products is a pain.

“The orthodontic industry operates unlike every other modern industry in the market. Online buying options are limited, price transparency is non-existent, and your best hope for learning what other orthodontists think of a product is to call them,” he says.

Biggs explored this issue in an article he wrote for Orthodontic Products last summer. Then, he was focused on the orthodontist’s consumer experience and asked his peers to engage in a conversation about why the purchasing process has gone unchanged for so long and why it’s not keeping up with other industries and

In the months after he raised the issue, Biggs set out to explore the issue from the other side. He wanted to know what orthodontic suppliers thought of the current product purchasing process. These are the very people who face the critical challenge of getting their products into the hands of busy, successful, distracted orthodontists—quite honestly, the people who want to talk to them the least.

As Biggs talked to vendors and peers, he realized there was a solution. Orthodontic Products talked to Biggs about what he found and more importantly, what comes next to address the problem.

Orthodontic Products: What happened when you talked to vendors to get their perspective on this issue?

Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS: I talked to dozens of vendors to learn their perspective. As I did, one thing became clear—orthodontic vendors are as excited about making the buying process better as orthodontists are.

When I spoke to Mike Parlente, an executive vice president at MidAtlantic Orthodontics, he said, “The amount of products required for orthodontic practices is significantly more than any other specialty. To add to that, there is an over-supply of companies selling the same products under different names. It’s too darn confusing and it continues to cost orthodontists more time and money than it should. Price transparency, product transparency, and digital procurement processes are a must!”

OP: What were your thoughts after talking to the vendors?

Biggs: I decided to do something about this problem. Working with a team of industry experts and developers, I’ve created a two-sided marketplace for orthodontists and vendors…and we’re calling it Details Marketplace.

Currently in a closed pilot with top orthodontists and vendors, the Details Marketplace allows orthodontists to search, rate, buy, and review products. This isn’t a buying club or basic e-commerce website. It’s a robust and modern platform that’s aimed at one goal: making the process of buying products easy for orthodontists.

OP: How does the Details Marketplace work?

Biggs: Simple. Once we’re out of the closed pilot, any orthodontist will be able to go to the Details Marketplace website and do the following: search for specific products or vendors; read product reviews from orthodontists who we’ve verified have bought the product; set up reoccurring orders to save time and money; and buy directly from multiple vendors at the same time, in seconds.

OP: Do the individual vendors then fulfill the order, or does Details Marketplace?

Biggs: The vendors fulfill the order, we just make sure the process is smooth and seamless for both sides.

OP: Once a customer has placed and received their order, who handles any customer service issues?

Biggs: If customer support isn’t better when you order through Details, we shouldn’t stay in business. We’ll be the first line of defense on any issues with orders placed through our marketplace, and if there’s an issue with the product itself, we’ll help customers get to the right department at the vendor.

OP: How does a vendor join the marketplace and how do you ensure that vendors are reputable?

Biggs: I’m literally buying and testing vendor products before we put them on the marketplace! Ok, so not every product, but my practice is ordering from each and every vendor on the platform to make sure they live up to what they promise.

This is something that’s critically important to us. If the people behind an online marketplace don’t live in the orthodontist’s world, how can they possibly understand the quality we’re looking for? This is why we’re exploring a number of trusted partners to help with vendor evaluation post-pilot as the marketplace expands.

As I mentioned, at the start, we’re only inviting well-known and trusted partners to sell on the platform. Any vendors who would like to be considered can apply on our website.

OP: While you work through the closed pilot period, how can your peers help?

Biggs: I don’t want to build a solution just for me. I want their feedback! What problems do they face that a solution like this might solve? What features would they hope are included? Yes, we’re only accepting a limited number of pilot members, but we’d love to hear their thoughts and add them to the list as next in line. They can email me at: [email protected]. And for Orthodontic Products readers, they can access a special pilot invitation, emailing us at: [email protected] with the subject line “Send me an invite.” OP