How to compete with Amazon — The Dentists Supply Company CEO shares trends among dentists & suppliers

Dentists have undergone major transformations in the past decades. From the rise of dental service organizations to the pressure from Amazon, dentists, suppliers and manufacturers are constantly forced to adapt.

Jim Wiggett is the CEO of The Dentists Supply Company. He discussed everything from how Amazon could threaten dentistry to market differentiation in the era of e-commerce.

Question: What sets The Dentists Supply Company apart from other suppliers?

Jim Wiggett: This company was created by, is managed by and is governed by dentists for dentists. So, this is inside baseball, where the dentists are working together to do group purchasing on their behalf, which allows independent dentists across the U.S. to compete with corporate dental practices and dental service organizations.

Q: As CEO, what trends are you seeing among dentists, manufacturers and DSOs?

JW: The traditional distribution system in dentistry that has been around for decades is about to go through a disruptive change. Dentists, manufacturers and distributors understand this. It is a part of the marketplace that is in turmoil much like what retail went through a few years ago after the introduction of Amazon.

The manufacturers are trying to find faster ways to get information about their products or new techniques out to the dentists. The traditional distribution system of representatives coming to offices takes a lot of time. So, manufacturers are reacting very well to the creation of this business and its e-commerce platform. They can now launch products overnight. If a dentist wants to learn more about a product, they can go to the website for education on the various products and instructions. Manufacturers love that there is a technology platform that allows them to stream content to dentists. For the dentists, it's looking at the new product or system and evaluating the pros and cons.

The new millennials who are coming out of dental school see no reason to have a representative come visit them in an office. They are used to buying and comparing online. So, for them, the digital answer is the only logical answer.

Q: What role will Amazon play in dentistry?

JW: Amazon will be a competitor. The answer is, do you want to stay inside the profession or do you want to go someplace outside that requires rewarding shareholders. One of the dimensions to our business plan is we take in a very low margin to give profits back to the dentists. The dentists have their own ecosystem where they are buying their own products for their use with patients. We've got all the brand names and generics. It's a win-win.

Q: What does the future look like for dentists?

JW: There is going to be more information available to dentists regardless of where they are. The doctors are going to be able to see more products. These products will be delivered in a one- or two-day delivery time, which is new for them. When dentists want to do research on products, tools or techniques, that educational information will be available to them as well. Dentists see the increasing amount of information on an e-commerce platform as a supplemental to what they can see at trade shows.

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