Online Sales of US Steel
Each of the four marketplaces for steel service centers include order tracking and account information links. Other common features include a search box, product specific drop drown links, and a link for quotes. As Real Steel Software advised almost two years ago, "In the age of automated supply chain management, purchasers expect to have full visibility into their order from placement to delivery." And continue, "Customers expect their suppliers to use modern systems, tracking orders across the organization and making that information available to buyers." It is a bit surprising that none of the four online platforms detailed below prominently feature order tracking or make customer preferences highly visible on the home page of their company's website. Klöckner & Co. incorporates several digital platforms in transforming the metal services industry. In addition, Fabricating and Metalworking Onine Magazine explains, "The steel manufacturers themselves — companies like ArcelorMittal, thyssenkrupp and Salzgitter — have also recognized the opportunities offered by direct online trading, and they operate web shops of their own."
Klöckner & Co.
- Although not mentioned in the original research, Klöckner & Co. intends to transform the steel service industry through a range of digital technology and platforms including its online marketplace, EDI systems, or proprietary inventory systems.
- "Klöckner supplies their approximately 130,000 customers in 12 countries to an increasingly digital extent, and has observed a cross-sector trend towards online ordering, with ordering patterns that differ according to the size of the customer."
- "Klöckner’s aim in digitizing steel and metal distribution is to initiate the end of the linear supply and performance chains that are typical of the industry. Reports state that steel and metal products will be traded in an increasing extent in the future via three digital channels: propriety online shops operated by individual traders; industry-specific vertical platforms; and cross-sector horizontal platforms."
- While Klöckner & Co.'s international (based in Germany) website is more informational and less marketplace, its US based website, with main office in Georgia, acts as the company's US marketplace.
- The US based website contains several prominent features including a search function, a project quote feature, a metals metal calculator, and account sign-in.
- The metal calculator section explains, "This is your one stop app for all engineers, fabricators, buyers, and procurement professionals who have metal related calculation. Our easy to use calculators cover all sorts of metal beyond steel such as Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Gold, Nickel, Silver, & Titanium."
- Another feature offered on the main page is links to various safety data sheets.
- "Klöckner, which has a distribution and service network of about 170 locations in 13 countries supplying around 130,000 customers, began fully digitizing its supply and service chain five years ago. Online transactions already contribute 23% of the group’s €6 billion 2017 sales revenues. The goal is to shift a total of 60% of its business to digital in the next three years. It has separately created an independent open industry platform called XOM Materials which it hopes will become the dominant global ecosystem not just for steel and metal but also neighboring industries that supply materials to the construction industry: think cement, screws or even plastics."
- Etventure provides a case study for Klöckner’s digital transformation, which details the features of its online platforms.
- The website for Felux contains multiple online features including signing in, which leads to a more personalized customer experience. The home page also features a quick link to a separate web page for available products; its marketplace.
- The main page also contains a feature as a drop down screen to enter contact information of its clients.
- The only other remaining feature is a link to request a demonstration.
- Since Felux is an online marketplace, the only logical conclusion is the company allocates a significant percentage of its budget on the platform. However, no concrete budget data are available in the public domain detailing a specific line item for the online platform.
- The Metals Depot website is much more advanced than Felux.
- Its products are organized by metal category, each found in its own drop down menu of sub-categories.
- In addition, it too has a featured link for account or 'sign-in' purposes.
- But, there are many additional features. One of two prominent features is a keyword search box. The second prominent feature is a quick-quote link.
- The quick-quote page states, "Chances are that within our network of affiliated warehouses nationwide stocking over a million tons of industrial metal, we can provide Just what you need ... Delivered! Simply fill out the form below with a description of what you need, including Shape, Size, Type, Quantity, Lengths, etc. One of our Product Specialists will get back to you shortly!", which is followed by the company's phone number.
- The customer services offered are not prominently featured, but are listed, with links, at the bottom of the page. The list of services include 'Custom Quote ', 'Service Center ', 'Track Order ', 'Shipping Info ', 'Safety Data, Prop 65 ', and 'Credit Application'.
- One unique feature is the ability to shop by product shape, which is prominently located as the first of the product drop down screens.
- Finally, this marketplace platform includes a check-out 'cart'.
- The Metal Supermarkets website meets most standard platforms in it contains multiple quick links; for products, available services offered, information about the company, and contact.
- The main page features a search tool as well as a link to 'get a quote'.
- One unique feature is the link to the store locator.
- Unlike the previous websites, the Metal Supermarkets main page includes a link to 'buy online'. This link takes the customer to a separate website that acts as the company's marketplace. The marketplace web page includes links to the customer's account and includes a 'cart'.
- The OnlineMetals website is very similar to the previously mentioned Metals Depot page, in that it contains both a search function and a cart function; the latter acting as the company's marketplace.
- It also contains a product locator featuring 3 input criteria; material, shape, and alloy type.
- Towards the bottom of the main page, other prominent features include offers, news, and a feature to receive a custom quote, which appears to be project specific.
- The final menu box provides links to a learning center, a gallery, details about the company, and customer account and order information.
Other Digital Platforms
- Metal Center news announced, "Invera, Dallas, last month released new iOS and Android mobile applications for metal service centers aiming to streamline their operations. "
- Its "INVEX-OPS shop floor mobile and tablet applications include location management, picture attachments, receiving, flat-rolled production and packaging functions, and much more, all with full bar code scanning integration. The INVEX-GO mobile application provides sales and management teams with powerful remote capabilities that can be used when visiting customers, including real-time order status, inventory lookup and more."
- Invera's website may be found here.