Experts Statements: Matthias Mirbach, Stockmeier Holding

E-Commerce Platforms in the Chemical Industry: Opinions on how to Deal with a Possible Disruption Caused by Digital Innovation

  • Matthias Mirbach, Nember of management board, Stockmeier Holding: "Only Open Innovation Can Lead to a Better Ecosystem" Matthias Mirbach, Nember of management board, Stockmeier Holding: "Only Open Innovation Can Lead to a Better Ecosystem"

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?

Matthias Mirbach: The chemical distribution will evolve massively in the years ahead. At Stockmeier, we recognize a broader understanding of online selling and purchasing within customers as well as suppliers. In addition to that, a huge increase in interconnectivity provides far more chances than the contrastable under-complex world of the 2000s.

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?

Matthias Mirbach: As we currently see increased digital activity especially on the supply side and self-proclaimed disruptors, our purchasing and business innovation teams are in close contact with major players and promising rising stars.

We strongly believe that only an open innovation approach can lead to a better ecosystem in chemical distribution. It will not be about talking but testing new ideas and building proof of concepts. Already in late 2017 we invested in new competence supporting this approach and will continue to adapt to new ways of thinking. In this way, we constantly expand our knowledge, which we then use for the benefit of our customers.

"Only Open Innovation Can
Lead to a Better Ecosystem"

Matthias Mirbach, Nember of management board,
Stockmeier Holding

What do you (either alone or with partners) plan regarding online distribution?

Matthias Mirbach: The so-called e-commerce-platforms of the old days will certainly not just be duplicated and shaped for today‘s needs. As all market participants do have a better understanding of the direction of change, we probably will see both the old and new online business models evolve. Market places, smart auctioning platforms, information providers and proprietary point of sales each offer their own value proposition. As the fastest growing distributor in Europe, we want to keep up with all the developments, but we see information as a key angle to all market participants. In this direction, we want to help shape the ecosystem by supporting Chembid developing the best meta-search engine for chemicals. As a spillover effect, our investment in Chembid four months ago gave the integration of our digital sales strategy a strong boost.

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