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Virtualstock marketplace extension to NHS Supply Chain

By Chris Dawson May 6, 2020 - 12:42 pm

OnBuy Funding RoundContinuing our Marketplaces series, today we look at Virtualstock .
 
Our Marketplaces series is produced in association with OnBuy.com – One of the fastest growing marketplaces in the world.

Web address: virtualstock.com

Marketplace Overview

The Virtualstock marketplace is a platform which emanated from the retail sector and has been successfully used by leading UK retailers such as Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone and John Lewis to help them compete with Amazon by extending product ranges online. Based in Reading, they are effectively Europe’s largest established drop ship software as a service solution.

With retailers facing ever increasing competition on the high street, winning online is more critical than ever and the Virtualstock marketplace enables them to do so with minimal up front costs but a vastly increased offering.

Virtualstock marketplace and the NHS during Coronavirus

The Virtualstock marketplace is now helping NHS Trusts secure critical PPE supplies for hospitals, for free, through its plug-and-play marketplace solution called The Edge4Health™, delivered in partnership with NHS Shared Business Services – half owned by the Department of Health. Virtualstock’s platform is an extension to the NHS Supply Chain with two million products available from 5,000 verified product suppliers. It is used by 139 NHS trusts in the country.

All suppliers on the Edge4Health are authorised by NHS Shared Business Services – half owned by the Department of Health – and have already been supplying the NHS. The Edge4Health™ is now used by 139 trusts out of 240 in the country. Prior to this crisis, Virtualstock’s platform was fully integrated across 20 trusts so the expansion of their services has been rapid. Since 20.03.2020, £30m worth of products have been purchased through the platform from those 20 fully integrated trusts.

Access, not availability, the real issue in PPE crisis

“The fundamental misconception about the current shortage of PPE equipment is that it is only one of availability, whereas accessibility to stock is a major issue.
 
There are suppliers up and down the country who can cater for the current surge in demand and fulfil many of the NHS’, primary care and care homes requirements. The issue lies in the NHS Supply Chain, which is sufficient in normal conditions, but finds itself overwhelmed in a crisis scenario.
 
Amidst this scramble to meet increased demand is the administrative burden for suppliers to obtain a certificate of suitability from the Department of Health. The backlog in this process means that some suppliers have become impatient, and in some cases diverted attentions to selling in other countries, where there is also a pressing need for key equipment. In the meantime other suppliers, already authenticated, are primed with product that’s ready to be shipped.
 
Lack of access to much-needed products has left some Trusts and care homes scrambling for products via the internet; this ‘wild west’ approach leaves Trusts at risk of purchasing unauthenticated products at extortionate prices.
 
The key is linking supply and demand, utilising tech platforms which expediate the process whilst ensuring the right level of due diligence on products and their suppliers, but the NHS must act quickly to satisfy the urgent need.”

– Ed Bradley, Founder and Director, Virtualstock

Seller registration and requirements

The Virtualstock marketplace is designed for brands, not traders. If you are a brand it enables you to upload your product catalogue on EDGE EXPO and immediately get in front of UK retailers looking to sell dropship products.

Product listings and fulfilment

In a few steps you can list your full product catalogue and showcase your current and future product ranges. Buyers will instantly see the quality of your product data and images so having a robust catalogue is key to success.

Retail buyers can view your company profile, connect with your sales team, and message for pricing. In turn, yours sales team can recommend selected product ranges to buyers.

Tamebay’s take on Virtualstock

Turning this valuable resource to assist the NHS in a time of national and indeed international crisis is the right thing to do. One day however, the pandemic will be behind us and as retailers take time to assess their operations and retail estate, Virtualstock should be a platform that brands consider to gain exposure on national UK retailers’ websites. In the mean time, if you have certificate from the Department of Health register now as an NHS supplier.

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