Experts Statements: Jouke Eijssen, Nouryon
E-Commerce Platforms in the Chemical Industry: Opinions on how to Deal with a Possible Disruption Caused by Digital Innovation
Digitalization is a very important topic not only in the chemical industry as a whole, but also in chemical distribution. As Wolfgang Falter states in his article: Customers increasingly search online and initiate digital contacts via websites, social networks, search engines and commercial platforms. Those distributors that they do not find online are no longer present in the relevant markets.
This development has led to many discussions within the chemical distribution industry on how best to address the issue of digitalization.
CHEManager asked executives and industry experts familiar with the development of e-commerce in chemical distribution to share their opinion on what needs to be done in order to survive in an increasingly competitive environment and how to deal with a possible disruption caused by new digital developments. We wanted to know:
Will e-commerce platforms in chemical distribution be more successful today than CheMatch, ChemSystems, ChemConnect et. al. were 20 years ago?
Jouke Eijssen: Yes, we firmly believe e-commerce platforms will be more successful today than 20 years ago. At that time, platforms were a technology push. Nowadays online is so integrated in daily life and customers are experiencing the convenience of all kinds of e-commerce platforms (e.g. online shopping, hotel bookings) in their private lives that now we experience a behavior pull — and act accordingly.
Who in the chemical supply chain from principal to distributor, logistics provider, online retailer, start-up to customer will be winners/losers in online distribution?
Jouke Eijssen: That is too early to say. We see a number of interesting initiatives, but we believe that offering the best customer satisfaction will be key.
It is quite possible that different platforms will co-exist — for example, focused on a specific geography or customer group.
"Offering the Best Customer Satisfaction
Will Be Key"
Jouke Eijssen, Director Digital, Nouryon
What do you (either alone or with partners) plan regarding online distribution?
Jouke Eijssen: It depends from where customers are in their buyer journey, but we see a clear trend of customers moving towards online. We aim to make it as easy as possible for our customers to do business with us, so we follow a multi-channel approach — for getting info, ordering, etc. We don’t have plans for our own platform, but we have several online outlets. They allow us to keep track of changing customer behavior, and with that allowing us to tailor — and sometimes re-invent — internal processes to create more value for our customers, on- and off-line.