XOM Materials News | eCommerce topics around materials trading

2020 will be the most important year in our history

Published on February 12, 2020

4 min read

XOM Materials starts the new year with three great digital tools. Marek Sacha, CEO of XOM Materials GmbH, explains what this means for the steel and materials trade in an interview.

After two years of XOM Materials - what is your conclusion regarding the digitization of the steel trade?

Marek Sacha: It is still relatively difficult for the steel industry to go digital. At the same time, however, the pressure  to tackle digitization is increasing. After all, the European steel market is the one with the greatest challenges. This will remain so in 2020. For many suppliers, the price war is at the expense of profitability - so they have to do something. And digitization is an important leverage.

Do you think the providers have recognized this?

When I started at XOM Materials in 2018, only early movers  wanted to talk seriously about digitization - today, everyone meets us with great openness. Most of the vendors we deal with now put digitization at the top of their corporate strategy. In terms of production, they are already a little further along with Industry 4.0. 

And now the industry 4.0 wave is spilling over into the sales area?

Yeah, I think so. At Amazon, the B2B sector is also growing very strongly, which is certainly an important indicator. What XOM is doing is automation in the sales area. With our tools we can avoid inefficiencies and manual errors. As a result, products can also become cheaper because the cost of sales decreases. After all, eCommerce eliminates many manual steps. The digital data collected via B2B online trading can in turn make production more efficient because suppliers can produce more in line with demand. On the other hand, consumers can shop smarter.

XOM Materials is currently transforming from a pure platform provider to a solution provider. How did this happen?

We have seen that our digital trading platform, the XOM Marketplace, does not cover all aspects of materials trading. Therefore we focus on two other aspects besides the Marketplace. One is a white-label eCommerce platform, i.e. complex eShop, as a separate digital sales channel for materials suppliers in their own design. The second is an e-procurement solution that simplifies the purchasing process by bringing together all the necessary data centrally. In both small and large companies, a lot of purchasing still runs on endless Excel spreadsheets with offers that are compared with each other. An eProcurement tool can prepare this data much better. For larger organizations that require a wide range of materials at different locations, it can also help to improve the overview significantly.

So the eProcurement solution could save a lot of time as well?

Yes, and it enables you to buy much better, because the offers can be compared way faster than if you have Excel spreadsheets in front of you, which you have to decode first, because the product names may differ.

What advantages do steel and other materials distributors have when they rely on XOM's eCommerce solutions?

We can get dealers online quickly and we can provide them with competent and industry-specific advice: How do I best present products, what does the sales team need to know, how do I involve customers, how do I design a digital price strategy? These are all things we have learned ourselves in the last two years. We can now pass on this experience to sellers  who are entering the world of e-commerce. This way we can make the development of an eShop much more efficient, and some dealers have already taken advantage of this offer.

What convinced the sellers who already run a webshop from XOM?

Well, having a steel-specific eShop is just not the same as having a standard shop that sells any kind of products. In our industry, there are lots of specific requirements like material certificates, cut-to-length, consideration of setup costs, personalized prices, and the ability for buyers to define their own item numbers, etc. - the sales process in the B2B sector is just different from the B2C market. There is a whole range of industry-specific features that come on top of it. To develop all of this yourself would be very expensive, and you also need a large IT team to adapt a standard webshop to the materials industry. We've already done the work and steel and other materials traders can benefit from it. So all in all, we offer a webshop solution that can be implemented more quickly and is cheaper too.

What are your goals for 2020?

That is easy to answer. We want to attract more customers to our eProcurement and eShop solutions and also generate more sales through our Marketplace. We want to show even more steel, metal and plastics retailers how they can sell their products efficiently and digitally. Our solutions are also mutually beneficial, because all the experience we gain with our webshops and eProcurement solution flows back into our Marketplace.

Now XOM Materials enters its third year - is there still some start-up feeling left?

Yes, you can see that in the team. We now develop everything in-house and since our tools are in use and bring real added value to our customers, our employees are more motivated than ever, because it's all thanks to them. They can see that they have achieved something great and also something meaningful, which is moving an entire industry forward. And I myself am also proud of what we have achieved together. I would like to continue like this. 2020 could be the most important year in the history of XOM Materials.

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