Q&A: Transparent pricing is a key element in ecommerce success, says Dave Haase, president of ChemDirect, a fast-growing chemicals industry marketplace.


Dave Haase, president, ChemDirect

As president of chemicals marketplace ChemDirect, Dave Haase is driving online growth in an industry still new to B2B ecommerce. He says that having kicked off online marketplace sales transactions in 2019, ChemDirect is on course to triple gross merchandise volume to about $40 million by the end of 2023 over 2022.

Haase will discuss the strategy behind ChemDirect’s growth a speaker on the June 21 “Keys to Success on B2B Marketplaces” panel at the  EnvisionB2B 2023 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

DC 360: What is driving B2B companies like ChemDirect to expand online?

Haase: Trends indicate that buyers are looking online more over time — as they get younger and companies like ChemDirect work to make online purchases easier. Additionally, within the chemical industry, supply chain disruption and inflation are driving more price changes and disparities than we’ve seen historically. That increases the need to look around, which ChemDirect helps aid.

DC 360: What are your biggest internal and external barriers?

Haase: Internally, working to structure data to ensure we deliver relevant search results all the way back to an initial search on Google or Bing. Externally, sharing prices is the largest barrier. We have a real price on every product — but many chemical suppliers are distributors and are still hesitant to list prices. But to buy online, you have to know what something costs.


DC 360: What are the chief gains youre realizing?

Haase: We’re adding new customers at an increasing rate as our supply base grows. These new buyers have increased our network by 30% in just the past 90 days. That’s an important start to building network effects — the buyer base to provide incentives for suppliers to list and ensure they have competitive pricing.

DC 360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them? 

Haase: I’d say customer focus is the most important piece of building these businesses. Ensuring that you are providing a great product experience and the selection and price they need to come back.

DC 360: Regarding COVID-19 and supply chain disruption, what is the biggest adaptation your company has made?

Haase: We’ve worked hard to ensure our products are on shore, and available. This is critical as supply chains have been stressed and inconsistent. Additionally, having landed costs is critical as variables like ocean freight move around quickly.

DC 360: Looking back over the past few years, is there anything you wish you had done differently in ecommerce?


Haase: I wish we moved faster! I’m sure everyone says that. So, I’ll give another answer as well — we should have worked earlier in the process to ensure our prices were competitive. This isn’t a simple thing, but something we could have started earlier. We’re now working to use artificial intelligence to check prices against competitors and model variance based on size and grade. But I wish we had started a year earlier!

DC 360: What excites you the most in new digital commerce technology?

Haase: Using AI to scale our intelligence. Specifically, improving search relevance, creating pricing models, supplementing product data, and creating unique content for each of our 450,000 products. We’re going to make huge strides in those areas this year.

DC 360: Going forward, what do you see as the most significant commerce challenges and opportunities?

Haase: I believe the most important challenges and opportunities in commerce are going to be in verticals that have yet to evolve. But those verticals — like chemicals — will have unique challenges such as lack of price transparency in our industry. It’s hard to generalize because these verticals will be different, but I think the overall theme will be doing more with less. Reducing time to value for suppliers and buyers and streamlining payments and financing in unique ways. In short, making it so much better to buy online that buyers and suppliers overcome their objections.

Jim Daly is a DC360 contributing editor covering digital business technology and strategy.


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