Experts Statements: Timo von Bargen, Chemberry

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

  • Timo von Bargen, Venture lead, Chemberry: "Improved Efficiency and Speed of Operations"Timo von Bargen, Venture lead, Chemberry: "Improved Efficiency and Speed of Operations"

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?

Timo von Bargen: Not only are we seeing apps that improve chemical ingredient transparency for end-consumers, but we’re also seeing new digital platforms that seek to better serve customers within the chemical industry. These customers hold the same expectations for B2B products and services as they do for the platforms they use in their private lives, be it Amazon or Alibaba.

What’s crucial for the success of e-commerce and other digital business models in the chemical industry is for these companies to provide more than just a shiny new platform: they must also ensure that the operations under the hood — from supply chain to production to logistics — are also improved in terms of efficiency and speed. This is the only way that e-commerce and other digital businesses can truly take off in this complex industry.
 
"Improved Efficiency
and Speed of Operations"

Timo von Bargen, Venture lead, Chemberry
 

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?

Timo von Bargen: That’s why we at Chemberry, borne out of chemical company Clariant, are working hard to understand the true needs of chemical suppliers and buyers.

As a start we identified the early phases of the customer journey as critical and therefore built a search and recommendation engine that intelligently guides customers to the right chemicals. But to achieve an end-to-end offering we need to find collaborators that can help us address later stages in the value chain. For this reason, we are actively seeking strategic partners who are willing to shape a new and improved digital customer journey in the chemical industry with us.

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