In issue 3 we introduced the beginning of a journey towards creating a new online sales platform exclusively for the chemical industry. With a new name, a growing customer team and plenty of fresh ideas, Asellion is back – and Managing Director Thorsten Lampe is here to tell us more.
First things first: what is Asellion? And what’s the difference between Asellion and the Covestro Direct Store?
Asellion is a private, reliable and scalable digital platform allowing suppliers of chemical materials to set up their own stores and sell their products directly to industry customers. This SaaS (software as a service) has been designed with the future aim of hosting closed direct stores where sellers and buyers can transact in a flexible, private and secure way. The Covestro Direct Store is the first and currently only store on the platform, offering exclusive access to Covestro products and services to selected business customers. And this is only the beginning – in the future we aspire to open up the platform to third parties and create more direct stores in addition to the Covestro one. Starting with the Covestro Direct Store, we want to connect buyers and sellers of chemical materials around the world and facilitate the exchange of goods and services between the two.
The chemical industry can’t afford to stand still while the rest of the world is moving. Today’s B2B customers expect a broader selection of products and complementary services, faster delivery, and more product information, all accessible via multiple channels. To satisfy and anticipate a new type of customer journey and gain a competitive edge, suppliers need to leverage new distribution channels to reach customers in original ways. Digital is the new commodity but it needs to be used in the right way. Many have been trying to build digital platforms for the chemical industry – we’re learning from their experiences and adapting to the new digital reality.
*Dummy prices shown
Why should I use the Covestro Direct Store?
The Covestro Direct Store has a lot to offer...
- 24/7 access: Independent from sales representative business hours
- Regular personalised offers: Buyers receive tailor-made offers at market-driven conditions
- Clear real-time conditions: What you see is what you get. Customer’s purchase triggers delivery at the stated terms and conditions
- Price interaction: Customers influence prices through auction and best offer dialogues
- Access to off-spec / B quality: Eligible customers receive regular offers on non-A grade material
How have Asellion and the Covestro Direct Store developed in the last few months and why?
The start-up world is all about research, experimenting and learning from those experiments. Initially, just like many other new businesses in this field, we were aiming to develop an open marketplace for the chemical industry – a “Chemazon” of sorts. However, during our trial phase and based on the continuous feedback we were receiving from customers, we realized that due to factors such as the sensitivity of information, buyer reliability, material requirements etc, an open marketplace is not necessarily the safest and best trading model fit for the chemical industry. With this in mind, we shifted our focus to fill a gap in the chemical market: we’re building Asellion to combine the flexibility and accessibility that open online marketplaces can offer, with a protected private trading environment that gives customers the security they need for sensitive business transactions. The Asellion platform allows the operation of closed online digital stores where various forms of deal-making and price-finding mechanisms are available in one cloud solution.
*Dummy prices shown
From an operational perspective, we focused on optimizing the Covestro Direct Store and creating solid foundations as a basis for growth: people, technology, legal. We redesigned the whole software to ensure the stability of our prototype for global businesses with complex service requirements. We also added a lot of functions to improve user experience on the Covestro Direct Store, migrated into the cloud and connected this to Covestro systems to ensure an accelerated flow of information. Setting up solid legal foundations was also important – ensuring our clients can comply with regulatory requirements is key for us.
We’re still at the very beginning of this journey and talking to more and more Covestro customers as time goes by so we can improve their experience. Rolling out the Covestro Direct Store to a wider customer base from all business units including PUR is on schedule for this year. In the longer term, we want to find more digital solutions to current frictions and pains in the chemical market, as well as improve the digital deal-making functionalities of the platform. We are here to help, to make the industry more sustainable and to guide the industry towards a more connected and responsive future. Trading chemical materials is not a simple thing right now. We can improve that. So let’s start there.