Until recently, most chemical buying and selling was manual. But the recent global pandemic and supply change disruption are causing B2B ecommerce — and the use of B2B marketplaces — to accelerate.
A case in point is ChemDirect. ChemDirect features tools aimed at making chemical purchasing transactions much faster for both buyers and sellers. For sellers, the new marketplace platform enables them to put up a storefront that features an “About Us” section. It lets buyers view products categorized to search by industry, price, grade, application, purity, container type, and form. For buyers, the new ChemDirect.com platform provides new planning and purchasing tools to view and share product links, reorder past products, and receive order-status updates in real time.
ChemDirect is expanding into a new arena
It has about 2,000 buyers and about 90 sellers using its platform. ChemDirect’s expansion comes with assistance from Schneider National Inc., one of the largest trucking, transportation and logistics companies. In 2021, Schneider had $5.60 billion in sales and more than 8,500 customers. Schneider is investing in ChemDirect and assuming a stake in the business, Ellison says.
More important, Schneider is working with ChemDirect on a new program, ChemShip, expected to debut in the fourth quarter. Specifically, Schneider is helping ChemDirect launch ChemShip as a new commerce-driven logistics program for chemical companies. Schneider also provides truckload, intermodal and logistics services.
Most B2B marketplaces are focusing on the user experience and the customer-facing side of digital commerce, Ellison says. But in the chemical industry, there is a new digital business opportunity in helping chemical companies with supply chain management, product fulfillment, logistics planning and delivery, he says.
Schneider, which has expertise in moving and shipping chemical products, will help ChemDirect build Chem Ship into a digital and physical logistics planning, supply chain management, and fulfilment and delivery service. Schneider says the service will let chemical companies research, purchase and book transportation at a price they want to pay.
“There are companies who want delivery as fast as possible,” Ellison says. “And companies that want other options based on their needs.”
Schneider will provide trucks for shipments booked through ChemDirect and manage logistics with other companies, including rail-truck intermodal operations, says ChemDirect.
“We are encouraged by the efficiency ChemDirect brings chemical shippers and the industry,” says Shaleen Devgun, Schneider’s executive vice president and chief innovation and technology officer. “With over 500,000 products readily available online and real-time credit terms, ChemDirect is the competitive differentiator today’s chemical buyers need to navigate supply chain challenges successfully.”
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