According to the latest report by CEFIC, in 2017, the world chemical sales were worth of €3,475 billion with a growth of 4.6% since the previous year. Digitalization creates new opportunities for the chemical industry, especially in the procurement process. Usually, the traditional purchasing process involves companies searching for products from multiple suppliers by phone, email, or fax which is extremely time-consuming. Other factors such as low transparency and insufficient knowledge of market prices, make the procurement process more inefficient. A survey in 2018 by ITCO indicated that the tank container industry grew by 8.66% in 2017 and during the same year, 48,500 units were manufactured (picture 1). The amount of goods carried by containers has been increasing and nowadays 95% of all manufactured goods transportation is done via container shipping. The industry is facing several challenges with the empty containers that are due to the trade imbalances, relocation time, and unreliable forecasts. Transporting empty containers creates unnecessary costs, which can be divided into three different cost categories: repositioning, storage, and ownership. The same capacity is needed to move containers, whether they are full or empty, which is why reposition costs remain the same. Storage costs depend on the contract that is made for a different number of containers and for how many days the containers are kept. Ownership costs add up from the amount of owned containers and especially if they are specialty containers.
Picture 1 – Growth in the Chemical & Tank Container Industry
The methods of chemical sales and agreements on the logistics done via personal phone calls and emails are slowly shifting towards more digitalized options. Meanwhile, digital solutions take over chemical sales, the global logistics and transportation are taking steps towards more efficient ways to make the process of transportation easier and faster. Two European companies, German PINPOOLS GmbH and Dutch TankContainerFinder.com (TCF), have taken advantage of digital opportunities to increase their business efficiency. Now, these two companies are about to bring certain levels of their functionalities together as a collaboration.
Innovation and digitalization solutions transforming the global business
Digital opportunities have brought new ways and solutions to make everyday lives easier and more efficient. This shift has happened just recently so it is a fairly new thing, especially in these two industries. Both companies, PINPOOLS GmbH and TCF, have created digital platforms to improve the business of chemicals and tank containers. TCF was launched in 2017 as a logistical matchmaker for tank containers, which was followed by digital booking functionalities and currently the company aims to empower further digitization within the tank container supply chain with several digital services that are needed to bring the industry forward. Two years later after its foundation, TCF has expanded its platform to 110 countries worldwide and seeks organic growth by finding users and partners in different industry events and conferences. TCF is the first open and neutral platform for the logistics of chemical/food/gases with tank containers. Open platform means all users are onboarded by customer support to prevent platform abuse and unwanted access to the digital ecosystem. Where booking tank containers and getting access to the right information about availability and pricing of tank containers was a complicated task in the future, TCF platform users get easy access to the right parties and information. The focus of TCF is on empowering transparency, visibility and collaboration within the supply chain to create a digitally optimized process and ecosystem.
Meanwhile, in the chemical industry, PINPOOLS website went online also in 2017 to ease the process of the chemical purchaser finding a supplier offering the best price for their desired chemical product. PINPOOLS’ growth and spreading the word of more efficient chemical sales online has been successful by onboarding chemical buyers and suppliers across Europe. PINPOOLS GmbH aims to improve its service by offering new features for the customers. Price statistics give the users an insight into the price levels on PINPOOLS' Marketplace, which helps the purchasers and suppliers with the price negotiations. Suppliers are able to boost their visibility on the Marketplace with their own personal Shop-in-Shop, where all the users can see which products the supplier produces. Marketing Services are available to promote the supplier company with several marketing channels. For instance, PINPOOLS GmbH takes care of Google Advertisement to promote the suppliers’ products that are added to PINPOOLS Marketplace and the marketing team offers personalized blog posts that are marketed via different channels.
Picture 2 – PINPOOLS & TankContainerFinder.com collaboration
Sales and logistics online has never been easier
Save time and money by taking advantage of these two platforms! TCF offers the platform for free for the searchers meanwhile PINPOOLS allows the use of the marketplace free of charge for the purchasers. In both platforms, the suppliers are able to try out for a free trial month and afterward the billing depends on the included functions. All the searcher needs to do it to place the request including needed information such as product description, capacity, and the location of departure information. Afterward, the searcher can contact suppliers and compare offers. The users are able to use the PINPOOLS Marketplace after the company verification has been done.
The supplier updates the products to the portfolio including the amount and the geographical area where these products can be transported. By having a Shop-in-Shop on the Marketplace, the supplier is able to gain visibility among the purchasers because the supplied products are placed to the suppliers own shop within PINPOOLS Marketplace. The purchaser updates their company information, publish an RFQ with the product information. Once the RFQ is published, the suppliers who match with this product amount and geographical area, are being notified. The purchaser can receive price offers from the matching suppliers, compare these offers and select the best one. The supplier information, such as the company name, the contact person, and their price offer, is available for the purchaser. The supplier can see their ranking compared to other offers, but no price offers, or other supplier names are shown among these suppliers. By seeing the ranking on the list, it gives an opportunity for the supplier to re-bid their price offer since they have the goal of being on the first rank with the best price compared to the other suppliers.
Cost-effective platforms with a customer-oriented approach
In every industry, the business is transforming into a more global level. Customers and business partners can be located anywhere in the world! Globalization helps the business become more diverse within its customers and the employees that are working on a daily basis to improve these two platforms. The team of TCF is very diverse with knowledge in tank container logistics, e-commerce, digital transformation and marketing, and software development. The team of PINPOOLS GmbH includes several nationalities from different work experiences such as international sales, e-commerce, marketing, product development and IT. The founders of PINPOOLS GmbH have studied and worked abroad before founding the company, which has helped to gain useful experience to secure the success of PINPOOLS GmbH. Bringing together this inclusive experience has created a strong base to develop the business further.
TCF started with a free of charge-model in 2017 to generate a substantial network. This helped to tackle early on the platform chicken-and-egg problem and empowered generating network effects and virality short after the launch. After the implementation of booking functionalities, TCF decided to ask some more commitment from the network and introduced a small booking fee for suppliers in 2019. This helps to develop more solutions for committed users and grow with extra digital services in the years to come. TCF has a strong internal focus on customer centricity which leads to a big focus on customer service and happiness. This results in an extra focus on UX to generate a seamless booking experience and having customer support sitting on top of all booking requests that need extra help.
The same chicken-and-egg problem was notified in the chemical industry as well, which PINPOOLS GmbH created a solution. In 2019 the chemical purchasers are able to use the platform to post a request for quotations (RFQ's) completely free of charge and increase their chemical supplier network across the European market. The chemical suppliers can register on PINPOOLS’ website and get acquainted with the platform for free. When the chemical supplier wants to increase its sales by adding the products to the portfolio and getting a notification when a potential buyer is looking for this specific product, a small fee is charged (In order to quote, a fixed fee plan has to be taken). The supplier only pays for the monthly fee, no additional costs included, and the fee depends on how much the supplier wants to explore the Marketplace. In the beginning, each customer receives a free demo presentation by PINPOOLS team in order to make the most out of the platform and afterward the customer service is ready to help and answer any possible questions the users might have.
The importance of transparency and data safety
TCF enables effective information exchange for its customers to improve the level of transparency. Users can easily select which information is available for who within the platform and extra default checks to prevent unwanted information exchange within competitors are in place. At TCF, customer trust is a top priority. The logistic matchmaker for tank containers and cargo is aware of its customers care deeply about privacy and data security. The transparency plays an integral part also for the chemical industry. For example, reliability and transparency are in the top 4 list of important factors for chemical customers. PINPOOLS offers a transparent platform to improve the security for its users by allowing users to see which supplier provides each product in their product portfolio. PINPOOLS Marketplace is neutral in a sense it is not influenced by any way. This secures the safety of the chemical business on the platform. PINPOOLS GmbH secures the safety of its B2B digital marketplace to buy and sell chemicals by doing a verification to each company that registers on the platform. Due to security reasons, each company needs to be REACH-certificated.
The global footprint in today’s business
The challenges with the environment and global warming create a lot of discussion on a global level and each company seeks ways to become sustainable. Smart solutions with transportation and supply chain management can help the company and its users to become more environmentally friendly and increase the level of green business. TCF offers its matchmaking solution to create a roadmap to the future by working towards completely relieving the customer’s logistics processes. The company seeks for green and sustainable direction by offering its service so the users can reduce empty repositioning and optimize liquid bulk logistics. In the chemicals industry, the existing challenges are related to the hazardous chemicals and surplus of the chemical products. By using PINPOOLS’ Marketplace, the suppliers are able to sell their products and use it as a sales channel to find new chemical purchasers that they might not have found before. Dealing with hazardous chemicals and having a surplus of products are a threat for both, the chemical businesses and environment sustainability, but the chemical purchaser and supplier companies can take advantage of PINPOOLS Marketplace to take the next step of a more efficient and sustainable way of business. For the supplier, this is possible by finding the right purchaser and avoiding having surplus products, and for the purchaser by buying the right amount of the needed product of what is needed.
The online chemicals sales and logistics of tank containers and cargo have never been easier. What are you waiting for? Register today and improve your chemical sales and make your logistics more efficient than ever before!