Wippet – the healthcare marketplace – is a new company that launched at the Care Show in October with an ambition to transform the way goods and services are purchased in the care sector. We took the opportunity to ask Matt Oxley, CEO of Wippet, what it’s all about and how it’s going to affect this transformation.
CHP: First, perhaps you could clarify exactly what Wippet is and what a marketplace is?
Matt Oxley: Consumer marketplaces have been around for years and many people may not know them as ‘marketplaces’ as such – but more by their brand names. In the simplest terms, they are websites where multiple sellers can sell to multiple buyers online. Sometimes they’re for complex things like insurance with companies like Compare the Market or Confused.com or there are marketplaces for more everyday things like Deliveroo for food or the ASOS marketplace for fashion.
Wippet is taking the same principal and bringing it to the care sector to make buying everything a care provider needs quicker, easier, simpler.
CHP: But most providers to the healthcare sector are already selling online, aren’t they?
MO: Yes, many suppliers to the care sector have ecommerce platforms and that’s great. We’re not trying to compete with these platforms – we’re simply providing another channel for these suppliers to sell the same goods. The difference is Wippet will sell everything, so you can manage a massively diverse range of suppliers in one transaction, with just one login, one password and one invoice per order – no matter how many suppliers you’re buying from.
Furthermore, all suppliers on Wippet must go through Wippet’s due diligence checks prior to being listed, providing the assurance to customers that they are buying from known and trusted supplier brands.
You’d struggle to find me a care provider who would not benefit enormously from the efficiency of using Wippet. We’ve invested heavily in the complex technology of the platform to make using and buying from Wippet simple. It works for the smallest independent care providers up to the biggest. By Christmas this year even the largest groups will be able to use Wippet for all their procurement needs – including sourcing and running tenders.
CHP: It sounds great – but also expensive – what’s the catch?
MO: Well, the good news is that it is free to the customer. There’s no catch. They do not have to pay a penny to access Wippet and all its benefits. The operating model is like a shopping centre, we charge suppliers a monthly fee, like rent, to be on the site. And because we’re managing the transactions centrally, there’s a small transaction fee we charge to the suppliers too.
CHP: What’s the response been like from suppliers, aren’t they worried about pricing wars and a race to the bottom?
MO: The response from suppliers has been excellent. In fact, some of the biggest suppliers to the sector are already subscribed to Wippet, including Care Shop, Renray Healthcare, Medline, Star Linen and many more. When we launched at the Care Show there were as many suppliers enquiring about Wippet as there were customers – we were rushed off our feet! And we’re adding new suppliers almost daily. There are food suppliers who are lining up to join too, however, the global and national supply chain problems have made that process take a little longer than any of us would have liked. All being well by the New Year we’ll be able to provide food via Wippet in addition to our current huge range
CHP: Does Wippet help in that regard, when supply chains fail?
MO: We hope so, yes. It would certainly be quicker and easier to find alternate solutions when your supply chain is interrupted by simply searching for products on one website without having to find the suppliers first, so certainly Wippet makes the process of buying much more agile.
CHP: Who is behind Wippet?
MO: The team is already growing fast. At the beginning of this year, I founded Wippet with two partners; John Barrowcliffe, our Commercial and Ops Director, who has a career in buying and building complex ecommerce platforms for the likes of Barclays, John Lewis and Harrods; and David Meikle, our Sales and Marketing Director, who has spent 30 years in advertising and marketing for some of the world’s biggest ad agencies like WPP.
CHP: So, what happens next?
MO: Wippet has only just begun – we are taking on more customers and more suppliers daily, and we have a pipeline of platform developments to deliver over the coming year that will truly transform the sector.
For instance, we know that whether you’re running one home or 100, knowing and tracking what you spend is the first step to controlling your finances. We’re conscious that many of the mid-sized care groups haven’t got the time or resources to analyse what they are spending and with whom. Therefore, we’re currently developing a buyers’ dashboard that will put the buying data at our customers’ fingertips – automatically producing buying analyses that would otherwise takes days to collate. One of the great things about Wippet is that the more customers use it the more value we can provide them with via this level of information.
CHP: What else is coming down the line?
MO: We’re actually asking our customers that question! We want to know from them what is going to have the greatest positive impact on them and their care services.
There are straightforward things like being able to subscribe to the regular delivery of disposable items, but the most exciting will be the purchase-to-pay functionality we’re developing. By the New Year the very biggest care providers will be able to run their entire procurement function through Wippet.
Normally it costs thousands and takes months and months for a large organisation to get a purchase-to-pay system – we can do it for free in a matter of days. That’s what Wippet’s technology is all about – making yesterday’s problems quicker, easier and cheaper to deal with today.
CHP: And how did you get started, do you have investors?
MO: Yes, we knew we needed investment capital to do this properly, to get the technology and the people we needed to make Wippet a success. We started out talking to Clipper Plc last December. I’d met Clipper when they were awarded the PPE distribution contract for the NHS last year, and knew they had a strategic interest in moving into life sciences. However, none of us had anticipated they would like the idea so much that they’d buy the company.
CHP: You mean you’ve already sold Wippet?
MO: Yes, we sold to Clipper pre-revenue in May this year and we only started working on the project last October. John, David and I are all staying on, of course, not only to deliver the business plan, but because we’re all so personally invested in seeing what Wippet can do to make the lives of people working in the care sector better. Clipper provided a valuable investment fund which has allowed us to access the best tech available and source great talent in the team, too.
Care providers and suppliers can all find out more by going to