A Word on the Internet

April 20, 2017

by Jacob Drucker

“The internet is not something that you just dump something on- it’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes!” Senator Ted Stevens will live in infamy thanks to his public comments on the internet. Signal is down? Call the plumber. Trying to download too much at once? Use some Drano.

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Of course, the internet has long since evolved from the days of dial-up, when you were excited to hear that “You’ve Got Mail” and Pets.com was the way of the future.

The e-commerce craze started simply enough. People realized that they could reach anyone else who bothered to go online. eBay was the early winner, gobbling up market share by letting anyone sell just about anything online. It was an early step toward revolutionizing how sales works in the era of the internet.

Newer companies have tackled e-commerce from a different perspective. Rather than sell everything to anyone, newer companies are dedicated to selling one type of goods so much better than anyone else does. Combatant Gentlemen, for instance, is an online men’s clothing retailer that is able to provide high quality clothes online- for less than traditional retailers. They do this by vertically integrating- they cut out the middlemen, meaning that they own everything from the sheep farm to cotton fields. With the internet, these kinds of integrations become more feasible.

You didn’t think I would neglect talking about Amazon, now did you? At every step of the process, and even today, hosts of individuals doubt Amazon’s ability to execute its vision and remain profitable. This Forbes article labeled Amazon a ‘lousy business’ in 2013. Graham Ruddick, a Telegraph writer, wondered in 2014 if Amazon would ever be profitable, as it kept pumping revenues into business expansion. Then Amazon turned a profit. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias didn’t expect the party to last, as of the end of 2015.

But Amazon has continued to grow, and grow quickly, by integrating both horizontally and vertically. They sell almost anything to anyone, but also increasingly assist with every aspect of distribution and sale. As a result, Amazon is becoming the default option for more and more manufacturers, distributors, and retailers looking to make the jump online. Amazon continues to expand into more and more sectors, all the while expanding its offerings to a variety of types of sellers.

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And Amazon has leveraged the internet to improve the customer experience. We at Supply Clinic hear sellers routinely talk about how expectations have been shifted by Amazon: customers expect their orders faster, and they expect lower shipping costs.

Which brings me to the dental supplies industry. It’s still largely organized the way it was 30 years ago- manufacturers sell their products wholesale to large distributors, who send sales reps door-to-door to sell the products retail to dental offices. Think about how drastically different it is to buy extra printer paper. Office managers can go to large retailers like Office Depot or Staples, or simply order paper online, and never have to even leave the office. I can’t think of any paper salesmen outside of Dunder Mifflin.

That’s where Supply Clinic comes in. We know that the internet, quite simply, makes it easier to find and buy the products you want for less. Industry giants that are resisting the shift online, or the pricing transparency that comes with access to information, will lose out in the long run. On one website, you can browse through thousands of products being sold by 100 different sellers, compare their pricing, and buy from any or many of them, all in one fell swoop. We’re introducing basic online efficiencies to an old industry.

Because it’s high time we brought the series of tubes to the world of dental supplies.

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