Internet sites and business issues relevant to Canadian processors and moldmakers (December 01, 2001)
SECOND GENERATION SITES MORE SERVICE ORIENTEDMany resin companies are into their second-generation Web sites with a strong emphasis on customer service functions and technical information.Here's a few...
December 1, 2001 by Cindy Macdonald
SECOND GENERATION SITES MORE SERVICE ORIENTED
Many resin companies are into their second-generation Web sites with a strong emphasis on customer service functions and technical information.
Here’s a few that have announced redesigns recently.
Barely skimming the surface of these sites, I would have to say there are no standouts. Instead of telling you about each one, let me just say, they all claim to be “new”, “improved”, “easy-to-use” and bursting with technical information.
The deciding factor in their success will be how well they work for you, and only you can determine that.
A POWERFUL MERGER OF RESINS AND EQUIPMENT
BASF, however, does stand out for its agreement with MachinePoint (1). BASF has raised the bar for resin company web sites with an agreement that will bring access to a used machinery marketplace to its revamped engineering plastics site. BASF’s PlasticsPortal (2) is a global e-commerce extranet platform for the company’s performance polymers and styrenics group. It will soon offer access to MachinePoint’s Web site, which lists more than 5,000 used machines for the plastics and rubber industry along with engineering, financial and transport services.
Omnexus (3) and GE Polymerland (4) are the only other high-profile sites I can think of that offer similar one-stop resin and machinery shopping opportunities, but neither of those is a resin company site per se, so I return to my assertion that BASF stands out.
There are some really good, global topic-specific aggregator sites emerging onto the Web scene. The combination of the global reach of Internet sites and low distribution costs allow sites to serve smaller niche markets, such as polyurethanes and blow molding, that magazines cannot effectively reach.
Specialchem.com (5) has compiled an impressive library of information about additives. Give it a visit. Or have it work for you by signing up for an email alert service for the technical information database, compiled in collaboration with Rapra Technology Ltd., a UK-based plastics and rubber consultancy.
Also, blowmoldingmatters.com (6) is proving to be a source of useful information. I use it mostly for news gathering because it has an extensive news section, but it has other features, such as a directory, buy/sell listings, recruitment notices and a user forum. Contrary to the name, it actually is not limited to blowmolding. It bills itself as an Internet magazine dedicated to bottles and their caps and closures.
Closer to home, Ottmar Brandau runs a site for his blow molding consulting firm, OB Plastics Consulting, that offers useful information, such as processing tips and a PET tutorial (7). He also has a detailed discussion of a new blow molding simulation program.
Pu2pu.com (8) is as a portal dedicated to the polyurethanes industry, with a permanent on-line exhibition of more than 2000 polyurethanes-related companies, industry news and a marketplace.
SELLERS BEWARE: STEEP GROWTH FORECAST FOR B2B E-COMMERCE
Two recent studies show that Canadian buyers and sellers in the B2B marketplace have significantly different attitudes toward e-commerce.
A study called How Business Sells, conducted for Visa Canada, shows that 72 percent of B2B selling professionals prefer selling through traditional channels (in-person and over the phone) rather than electronically because traditional channels enable sellers to build and maintain personal relationships with customers.
Despite this preference for traditional channels, the amount of in-person and phone selling is forecast to decline from 70 percent to 57 percent of total B2B sales by 2005. A previous Visa study indicates that the Canadian purchasing industry anticipates placing 37 percent of orders through e-commerce channels by 2005 compared with 9 percent today.
“Clearly sellers have to adjust to the fact that their customers are pushing for the efficiencies that electronic ordering provides them while finding ways to maintain the personal contact that underpins successful selling,” says Jacqui Hurd, senior manager, commercial card products, Visa Canada.
Kudos to X-Rite. The company has a lighthearted and enjoyable site (9) that serves as a virtual exhibition booth. Within the virtual exhibition is a fun little quiz entitled Are you a color guru? I barely passed, with a grade of 60 percent. The online exhibition presents only a few highlights of the company, as opposed to trying to present everything, and every option, at once.
Did you know Air Products and Chemicals Inc. has a corporate band made up of employees? The band plays at company and charitable events, and recently won a “Battle of the Corporate Bands” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This I learned from Air Products’ web site (11). This site has great personality, so you may want to have a look at it. Try to define what gives it the edge that sets it apart. To my mind, the site is engaging, personable and most significantly I guess, personal, giving a glimpse into the company culture, not just its products.