Our new column dedicated to the orthodontist’s purchasing experience

Welcome to our new column offering a close-up look at orthodontic product purchasing and how it is evolving. Orthodontic Products has teamed up with Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS, who is not only the owner of his own private practice in Indiana, but also the founder and CEO of Orthodontic Details Marketplace, an online marketplace built for orthodontists’ purchasing needs. Biggs is uniquely placed to offer insight into the orthodontist-supplier relationship and the purchasing trends and, more importantly, answer your questions. 

“Masks. China.” 

In my 20-plus years as a practicing orthodontist, this text message is one of the most impactful I’ve received professionally.

That message lit up my phone screen 1 year ago, pre-lockdown—when news about a “coronavirus” was still infrequent. 

It came from my business partner, explaining why—despite zero marketing—we had received hundreds of orders on Orthodontic Details Marketplace overnight. “Masks. China.”

Quickly, we changed the settings on the site (you now need to be a practice to make purchases) and began wrapping our heads around how individuals in China even found our orthodontic marketplace—and what the rush of orders might mean for us here in the United States. 

Looking back, that text message was a signal—everything was about to change. It wasn’t long before practices were faced with shutdowns, PPE purchasing challenges, and, let’s be frank, chaos. 

The pandemic has come at an interesting time in orthodontics. We have startups going after patients directly, suppliers entering (and leaving) the space, and practices completely re-thinking the way they order products due to the PPE rush. 

And that’s why we’ve partnered with Orthodontic Products on this column: To share what we, our orthodontic practice customers, and supplier partners—3M, G&H Orthodontics, Park Dental, etc—are learning.

So, to kick things off, we want to share what we heard from practices in 2020: 

  • “Want to know the quickest ways to get a sales guy to stop calling? Ask them about the KN95s you ordered.” 
  • “Having to search for PPE has meant considering suppliers we’d never purchased from before. We used to order products from 15 suppliers. Now, we order from 10, and only seven of them are the same as before. We’re trying to consolidate everything.” 

“The great mask shortage of summer 2020 has resolved, only to make way for the great glove shortage of fall 2020.”

And knowing what we heard, it’s no surprise that these were the trends that truly defined 2020:  

The #1 PPE product purchased on Details Marketplace was KN95 Masks, with the most commonly re-ordered product being gloves. Practices tended to overstock on masks once they became available—for good reason, but underestimated how quickly they would go through gloves due to new regulations. 

By August 2020, 60% of our practice customers were open to some capacity. By January 2021, 100% were open, most at full capacity. 

Suppliers who listed at least 50 products on Details Marketplace saw 200%+ more sales than suppliers who listed less than 50 products.

Going forward, we’ll share helpful stories from our hundreds of practice customers, what we’re seeing behind the scenes with suppliers, and sales trends showing how purchasing is evolving on an independent marketplace like ours.

Which leads to a question: What would you like to know? Because we sit at the intersection between orthodontic practices and suppliers, we’re frequently learning from both sides, and want to share that insight so practices can excel, even in this chaotic time.

Like Details Marketplace, this column is for orthodontists, by orthodontists—and we can’t wait to share what we’re learning. OP

Send us your thoughts and questions at [email protected] and we will answer them in a future column.

jeff biggs

Jeff Biggs, DDS, MS, is an ABO certified orthodontist with more than 20 years of experience. In addition to actively practicing in Indianapolis, Biggs is the CEO of Orthodontic Details Marketplace, and a sought-after advisor for other practices.