“For the last 10 years we’ve been talking about how technology and the “digital age” have changed everything. But now it’s going to get very real. Right now the business world (is continuing) to have break-throughs in speech recognition, automation, robotics, logistics, processing power, data management… A tipping point has (been) hit…
Daniel Priestley. Entrepreneur and bestselling author.

But the circle isn’t squared unless the way we buy from the supply-side is equally innovative.

According to China Daily, the Chinese Government’s 13th 5 Year Plan sets out ambitious targets for the country’s e-commerce sector. By 2020 impressive goals such as: Increasing the trading volume of e-commerce to 40 trillion yuan (£4.5 trillion), and an expectation that 50 Million people will be employed in the sector by the same year, is not the most interesting thrust of the many layered plan, (which will affect every sector of the Chinese, and Global, economy): They are looking to drive transformation by deepening supply-side reform and achieving the integration of the internet and the real economy. By “real” they mean Traditional Industries.

“The next step … how to better integrate traditional industry with e-commerce.”
Lu Zhenwang. Wanquing Consultancy, Shanghai.

Despite all the benefits the Chinese have recognised – freeing up staff time; cross border collaboration, ease of sourcing products and information, instant costing, quick turnaround and delivery – traditional industries in the UK have been slow to fully embrace e-commerce for buying parts or services. While an individual will happily buy what they need through EBay or Amazon – buying for a company is seen as much more difficult. It isn’t a case of an e-commerce offering being insecure, or in any way unreliable, even if perceived as such, but the customer side purchasing and accounting practices – the fear of a shortened process leaving those with fiduciary responsibility exposed.

The other “Elephant in the Room” is that the average age of a board director in the UK is still 59 (62 in the largest companies) which may go some way to explaining the reluctance to “risk” changing purchasing and reporting systems – “Never get into a business you don’t understand” as the old adage goes – but change we must – because innovation is making those up and coming companies and countries, leaner, faster and more competitive; by reaching resources quickly and more cost effectively than their bigger established competitors – mainly because of e-commerce.

 

“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and still be in business tomorrow.” As Steve Pearson, owner of Valve & Process Solutions Ltd is fond of saying.

“…we have customers who know exactly what they want and they want it quick! While others need a conversation about exact specifications and solutions with someone who has the knowledge to give advice and has the resources to provide the products required – made up and ready to go” he went on “…while we had the latter covered, with a service proven over a decade of successful client partnerships, we recognised there was a better way of helping the former – and in doing so found our customers wanted access to both!”

The upshot was the launch of the company’s first ecommerce website – Valve Express – which has proven so popular V&PS have now launched Switchbox Express – The difference between these two new members of the group and other online resources is that Valve & Process Solutions is not a “Pick & Pack Warehouse”. Everything available at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen on Switchbox Express has been chosen with all the same engineering experience customers have become accustomed to from V&PS – (with the added benefit of the World’s largest inventory of industry leading Westlock Controls products).

“With every successful click through transaction, we are proving to our customers in traditional industries there is nothing to fear from adding an efficient on line service to their purchasing armoury – while always being available to discuss the bigger and more complex solutions needed to deal with any required outcome”

 

First Published in Process Engineering Magazine 8th November 17