Service brings vets online

An Auckland-based B2B hub is claiming what few others can - to have profits in sight.

An Auckland-based B2B hub is claiming what few others can — to have profits in sight.

Vetservice, which has been partially launched but which promises more services in November, caters to more than 100 of the country’s vets. But the viability of the service might hinge on a factor out of founder James Coddington’s control — rural telecommunications services.

One member, Wanganui vet John Pickering, says the patchy internet access that farmers suffer is a real issue in the success of web-based services. “I only live five miles out of Wanganui and I struggle to get a connection sometimes,” says Pickering. “That is a real issue that needs doing something about.”

Aside from connection issues, farmers aren’t the fastest adopters of new technology, according to Pickering. “The farming community can be slow to change.”

Vetservice is primarily a hub, says Coddington. “It’s a virtual warehouse for veterinary supplies,” he says. “We’re not a middleman; we’re a vehicle between vets and supply companies.”

Those suppliers include Merial — described by Coddington as the largest animal health company in the world — and French animal pharmaceutical company Virbac. Suppliers pay $6000 a month to sell through the hub, and buyers make a net saving of about 5% on normal retail prices, he says.

Members are up for other costs, however. Vetservice charges $3500 to create a website for members, and in November will begin offering a $10,000 a year marketing service that employs the hub’s back-end tools.

Pickering, whose practice has been a member for just long enough to get a website up, says the potential saving on the cost of vet supplies is attractive. “You’re in business to make money and as long as the service is reliable, it looks promising.”

Coddington, who began developing Vetservice 18 months ago with his vet father, has been involved in e-commerce venture in the US and Australia, including travel.com.au.

“Our goal in our first year is to make a profit,” he says.

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