Australia's IT channel community was presented with an additional means of conducting business last week following the launch of e-exchange, an Internet-based trading hub claiming "thousands of members in over 50 countries".
According to Braham Shnider, e-exchange's Australian managing director, the core competency and chief motivation behind the local version of what is a global initiative is "matching the needs of buyers and sellers" via the Internet.
Shnider said e-exchange will have close to 1000 "buying organisations", most of the major distributors and "over $30 million worth of stock" upon launch locally. The community being assembled represents a complete cross-section of the channel including "everything from the large vendors to small resellers", he said.
Distributors including Ingram Micro, Siltek Asia Pacific, Digiland, LAN Systems, CHA, Chips, IT Wholesale and ACA Pacific are amongst the sellers registering "specials" on the site ([ital]www.e-exchange.com/au[ital]). Buyers can register a "watch list" which will systematically e-mail details of sellers' offerings that fall within nominated product parameters.
"This is very much a spot market," Shnider said. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is the commoditised products that will work best. Buyers need to know exactly what they want."Prices for the various products sold via e-exchange should fluctuate under the true influence of supply and demand. Its revenue model is based around taking half a per cent cut on all transactions with a minimum fee of $US20. Under current exchange rates, this represents a transaction of "about $8000", Shnider said.
Initially expected to focus on "specials" and "end-of-life" offerings of complete or "finished product", Shnider said e-exchange is only for the channel community and not end users. He feels that Australia is "absolutely big enough" for such a marketplace and the registration run rate proves as a business community we're "willing to embrace new ways of doing business".
He explained that a true online exchange is about "looking at the characteristics of what a buyer and seller want and then matching them together. It's a true, dynamic marketplace," he said.
Recognising the "risk" that buyers and sellers may "take the deals away from the site" once they have been connected, Shnider said the whole concept is about adding value. For the first six weeks of trading ("up until the end of July"), e-exchange is offering buyers a $50 gift "every time you buy off the site".
"Initially it will be driven by the buyers," Shnider said. "If we don't deliver the buyers looking for stock at the right price, then there won't be the sellers. If we deliver the value for both it will be a truly complementary scenario.
He said that this is "not about replacing the traditional role of distributors" and that e-exchange is "not in competition to them". But he added that "it does change the status quo.
"Our core is matching the needs of resellers and distributors. It will allow a many of them to grow their market contacts. Resellers will have access to more products while vendors and distributors will have access to more buyers," Shnider said.
Facilitating vendor/buyer relationships is the core at the moment -- the remaining logistics of completing the sale are completed independently between buyer and seller, but Shnider said e-exchange will be looking to additional services in the future.
"As we develop, there will be value adds such as secure payment gateway and fulfilment," he said.