Lanxess has introduced a business-to-business e-commerce company specializing in chemicals. CheMondis, operating in Cologne, Germany, as a subsidiary of the German chemical maker, launched with about 500 products from various suppliers, and over 200 companies registered to buy and sell on the site, according to Sebastian Brenner, managing director of the new company.
“Developing new business models is an important element of the Lanxess digitalization initiative,” says Lanxess chair Matthias Zachert. The firm says it is developing models for buying and selling chemicals that tie purchasing into broader “big data” management initiatives.
CheMondis may be part of a resurgence in e-commerce for chemicals, a sector that lagged after a flourish during the dot-com boom of the early 2000s. Last year, for example, Knowde, an online marketing platform for chemicals, launched in San Jose. Its CEO, Ali Amin-Javaheri, says both digital technology and workplace demographics have evolved to accommodate e-commerce in an industry more accustomed to working online than it was 20 years ago.
Unlike in consumer markets, e-commerce in chemicals is limited by the fact that many products are commodities that command the same price regardless of the selling platform, notes Dayton Horvath, a materials industry consultant and principal at the investment bank NewCap Partners.
However, e-commerce could fit into broader digitalization efforts as companies craft computerized business models covering materials access, logistics, manufacturing, “and even recycling,” Horvath says. “What is going to drive that from a cost perspective is an improvement in the sales channels.”