Channels for After-Sales for Medical Refrigeration in Canada
Our research findings show that after-sales for medical refrigeration products in Canada occurs mainly through two channels: manufacturers and licensed distributors. While it might be possible to obtain after-sales service from some other type of channel (e.g. ordering products online via a third-party), the Canadian government advises against doing so, as it is considered a risk. This is because the Canadian government has licensing regulations in place for medical devices and equipment that are manufactured/sold/used within the country.
Manufacturers of medical refrigerators who operate in the Canadian market all tend to provide approximately the same types of after-sales service. This service comes in the form of service contact forms, technical support hot lines, information / troubleshooting databases, and on more rare occasions, online ordering for replacement parts. These manufacturers often typically provide training for in-house service technicians and also for their distributors.
Licensed distributors partner with manufacturers and sell their products. These distributors also offer their own after-sales services, however the type of services offered differs depending on distributor. Most commonly, it would appear that these distributors offer after-sales service in accordance with warranty agreements.
In order to answer your question, we first began by attempting to locate existing data which would directly answer your question. However, after searching exhaustively through industry reports and trusted media sites, we did not locate any findings which break down these channels in terms of market share.
Since direct data was not located, we next focused our research on analyzing the medical refrigeration industry in Canada in order to gain an understanding of who the key players are in terms of manufacturing, and then analyzing their websites to understand what type of after-sales services they offered, if any.
During this research, we located information from the Canadian government which mentions certifications and discusses the dangers of ordering parts and products online, specifically via third parties. Given this information, we came to the conclusion that there are both licensed distributors and the manufacturers operating in this space.
Overall, we have compiled several case studies of manufactures and licensed distributors who are operating in this space and have analyzed these channels to understand specifically what types of after-sale services they are providing, along with what sort of partnerships they have with each other, whenever this information was evident.
Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings.
overview of channels
Based on our collective research findings, there are two types of channels that are used for after-sales of medical refrigerators in Canada: manufacturers and licensed distributors.
Some leading players in this market, globally, according to a recent industry report, are the following manufacturers: Haier Biomedical, Panasonic Healthcare Co., and Helmer Scientific. While these are the global leaders, we feel they are still applicable to the Canadian market, given that North America holds 52% share of the entire global market, according to this same industry report. Additionally, we have located Canadian distributors who sell products from these companies, which helps confirm this.
Based on analysis of the websites for these manufacturers (as outlined below), we have established that manufacturers are a key channel with regard to after-sales services of medical refrigerators, as all of these manufacturers provide some level of after-sales service.
Additionally, the Canadian government has published warnings about the risks of purchasing medical equipment online, and notes that most medical devices used in Canada must be licensed and adhere to health and safety regulations set forth by the government. They have set standards for electrical equipment used in laboratories specifically, under which we would assume medical refrigerators are classified. In alignment with this, the Canadian government "requires medical device manufacturers to use a quality system certificate as evidence of compliance to the appropriate regulatory quality system requirement." Given these findings, it would appear that, in addition to manufacturers, third-parties may also be authorized to provide after-sales services for medical refrigeration products, as long as they hold the required license to do so.
case studies: channel functions and partnerships
Upon analysis of the leading manufacturer websites, we noted that many of these manufacturers offer similar types of after-sales services to their customers. Panasonic Healthcare Corporation provides a contact form that can be used to request parts and/or service, which then gets delivered directly. They also provide knowledge via operating manuals, a technical support hot line, and field training for in-house technicians and third-party distributors. Haier Biomedical has a product database which can be searched and allowed for product/parts ordering, in addition to a support hot line, and product warranties. Helmer Scientific has a service request contact form, offers warranty and service agreements, a technical service hot line, an online knowledge database and technical training.
With regard to third-party distributors, we located a handful of distributors based in Canada. On their websites, these distributors have made note of their compliance with the governmental licensing regulations, as noted above, and their partnerships with manufacturers. For example, Pharmacy Fridges notes that they are an exclusive distributor for Haier Medical Equipment, and they also provide after-sales service via their warranty program.
Canadian distributor, 360 Medical, provides after-sales services across a range of different brands, including Haier, while another distributor PharmaSystems states that they hold a "Medical Establishment License for Class 1 and Class 2 Medical Devices", and also provides after-sales service in order to replace damaged or malfunctioning goods.
In closing, we have identified manufacturers and licensed distributors as the two main channels in which after-sales services for medical refrigeration takes place. The Canadian government advises against utilizing other types of channels, such as third-party online retailers, as a license is required to manufacture/distribute medical devices in Canada.