Online Paper Procurement — A Changing Landscape
BY CAROLINE MILLER
When it comes to buying paper online, change certainly seems to be in the wind these days. There is currently much activity in this space; companies are adding new features to their Websites, restructuring their business models, expanding their offerings and some are closing up shop for now.
And, don't look for the wind to die down any time soon. There are four new companies that are about to enter into the online paper procurement mix. Printing Impressions presents a look at all the new developments in online paper procurement.
PaperExchange has announced plans to expand beyond its original exchange model. While the company plans to continue to enhance and support its existing exchange, PaperExchange is introducing a range of new online ordering, contract and inventory management solutions.
StockMover is the first new tool to represent the company's evolution beyond the exchange model. StockMover manages suppliers' inventories that are not committed to a specific buyer. Customers benefit by stabilizing intra-company supply and demand imbalances, and identifying profitable methods to convert excess stock into prime product.
The new contact management tool, which will be introduced this year, provides components designed to create efficiencies by bringing buyers and sellers closer together. The contract management tool will benefit members who deal in long-term relationships and the on-going order processes that result.
While PaperExchange is expanding its scope, it is by no means backing way from its exchange model, according to CEO Kent Dolby who points to the latest upgrade of the company's pulp and paper e-marketplace. The version 3.7 upgrade includes multi-language trading floors, additional currencies, expanded paper grades and sizes, additional pricing mechanism support and improved browsing capabilities.
Paper2print is one of the newest online paper portals. It is an Internet-based, business-to-business e-commerce portal, reveals Paper2print President Terry Tevis.
Paper2print's solution connects printers, print buyers, distributors and paper mills, as well as provides solutions to better monitor and control inventory.
The site enables users to identify supply chain partners, and then electronically transmit orders and receive confirmations via Paper2- print. Users can check on open orders, orders received, orders acknowledged, orders in production and completed orders. Once the order is completed, the user can also track the fulfillment of their orders.
Fob.com, Fobpaper's parent company, has closed its online Fobpaper, Fobplastics and Fobchemicals sites as part of its business model realignment.
Instead, Fob was planning to launch its new offering, ProSource, a Web-enabled e-procurement platform for the purchase of raw materials such as paper, chemicals and plastics. However, Fob.com announced in late November that it was suspending indefinitely the development of ProSource. For now, Fob.com has decided to turn its attention toward its MSDSonline offering. MSDS develops solutions for the electronic management of health and safety information, including Material Safety Data Sheets.
"This move is designed to more effectively focus our management team and financial resources toward building a business that will quickly generate cash flow and is positioned for rapid growth," says Patrick Blake, Fob CEO and co-founder. "The market potential for environmental, health and safety data management has far exceeded our expectations."
Backed by Appleton Papers, Paperhub is a new online private exchange for paper products. Paperhub claims to enhance business-to-business relationships between paper mills, merchants and printers. Launching in 2001, Paperhub plans to provide an online resource that combines education with the ability to conduct e-commerce transactions.
To ensure that the transactions are seamless, Paperhub—in partnership with webMethods and Appleton Papers—developed a printing and publishing markup language called PML. It is a new protocol for Internet-based commerce between buyers and sellers of paper and printing products. The intent of the partnership was to develop and implement integrated, end-to-end, e-commerce solutions for paper industry members. Based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), PML will enable the Web-based integration of a range of transaction services and catalogs to facilitate efficient, system-to-system transactions.
Paperhub contends that printers will benefit from the product pricing, availability and ordering environment that it will provide. Paperhub will also offer a variety of online tools for grade price comparisons, project management and metric conversions.
Forestexpress is another relative newcomer to the online electronic marketplace. Currently slated to launch in the first quarter, Forest- express is a forest products consortium that includes International Paper, Weyerhaeuser, Georgia-Pacific, Mead, Boise Cascade and Willamette.
Its initial areas of focus will be building materials, printing and writing papers, recovered fiber and timber—with additional areas of e-commerce to be added later. The business-to-business marketplace will be open to all firms that want to participate.
Forestexpress will function as an independent company with its own management, and is currently under the guidance of a board drawn from the ranks of its partners.
Printeralliance is a group of independent printers who have joined together in order to leverage their collective buying power to obtain savings. Printeralliance offers rebates to printers on everything from health care to paper.
The collective purchasing power of its members allows Printer-alliance to obtain substantial rebates from suppliers. Members have a choice on how much participation they wish to have in the rebate program. Printers can choose to "bundle" the programs into the best savings package for their companies.
Also entering the paper fray is Clickpaper.com, backed by Enron Industrial Markets. Enron has provided risk management products and financing for the pulp, paper and wood products industry since 1997.
Clickpaper.com provides a transactional platform to buy and sell physical and financial pulp, paper and wood products—commission-free and in real-time. It also provides news, resources and information directly related to the industry.
"Clickpaper.com will become the preferred, Web-based system for principal-based transactions in this industry," remarks Jeffrey McMahon, president and CEO of Enron Industrial Markets. "Utilizing the proven business model created with EnronOnline, Clickpaper.com offers customers in the pulp and paper industry a unique set of benefits, including competitive pricing and price transparency, which we believe will provide liquidity to this market."
Future plans for Clickpaper include expanding the product menu with additional financial risk management products, and additional physical pulp, paper, and wood products on a global basis.
Over the past year, Printnation has added several new features to its Website. The site now offers its customers the ability to purchase paper through Printnation's paper store, online outlet store and online auctions.
The online auction site features paper categories, with continually changing stock. Interested sellers and bidders can register for free to participate in all of Printnation's auctions. Customers can use their ID and password to bid on any item. The ID and password also allow sellers to post their offering on the auction site. Once an item is posted, sellers can check back with the site any time to track bidding, add new items or modify an existing listing.
The outlet, which offers discounts off original retail prices, features a regularly changing inventory of products. "This unique new marketplace will prove highly beneficial to printers and manufacturers alike," explains Tony Seba (who has since left the company). "Small- and medium-size printers can find exceptional values on top-quality products, while manufacturers will enjoy having an alternative channel for their excess inventory."
Also, Printnation has established regional warehouses in Chicago, Atlanta and Windsor, CT. The warehouses now enable clients that are east of the Mississippi River to receive their paper orders within one or two days. Customers shopping the Printnation paper store will have access to regional paper catalogs based on their location. After entering a ZIP code, customers can shop a wide range of paper products available from their closest paper fulfillment center. Printnation customers do not have to meet minimum purchase requirements. The selection of paper at Printnation reportedly has paper for nearly every printing need.
Paper.about.com is part of the larger Website About.com, which bills itself as the "human Internet."
Each About.com site is run by a professional guide who culls together online information to create a comprehensive environment around each of their specific topics. The Paper.about.com site is maintained by Bruce Daniel Morrison, who is a technical marketing expert with over 20 years professional experience in the pulp and paper industry. The site offers visitors access to industry research, purchasing resources, company information, professional organization Websites, industry recruiters, as well as industry news. Visitors can subscribe to a participate in online forums and chats.
Printers can locate, compare and request quotes on printing papers using PaperCatalog.com.
This Website offers detailed information on mill brands, manufacturers and distributors. Users can also find the paper they are looking for with the paper search engine, which enables printers to search by brand name, manufacturer and paper classification.