Benefits Of The Online Marketplace

In the past, manufacturing has relied on relationships and directories as the sole means of marketing services to buyers. Enter the online marketplace: The online marketplace is changing manufacturing and leveling the playing fields for suppliers and job shops. Jobs that were once sourced locally are being opened up nationally and sometimes globally.

My past two columns have focused on positioning and marketing companies to buyers and engineers. The methodologies I described are important, but another point should be brought to your attention. There is a way to automatically receive a request for quote (RFQ) matched to your equipment, expertise and capacity from buyers across the country who have an immediate need for your services by using online marketplaces.

This month, we'll focus on online marketplaces and how they are changing the way we do business. In the past, manufacturing has relied on relationships and directories as the sole means of marketing services to buyers. Enter the online marketplace: The online marketplace is changing manufacturing and leveling the playing fields for suppliers and job shops. Jobs that were once sourced locally are being opened up nationally and sometimes globally. You now have the ability to focus on responding to highly qualified opportunities rather than searching for and trying to get appointments with buyers.

For some tips on what to look for when choosing an online marketplace to conduct business, visit www.mfgquote.com/tips. 

If you are a buyer for an OEM, and you need to find a supplier for a production machining job, the task can be daunting. For years, there weren't a lot of options. However, the Internet and online marketplaces are bringing tremendous efficiency to the sourcing process. These marketplaces have triggered a digital consolidation that is appealing to buyers and engineers, because they save time and increase the odds of finding the right supplier versus traditional methods. Marketplaces are delivering the value everyone had promised the Internet would bring.

Let's talk about how online marketplaces work. I'll use my company, www.MfgQuote.com, as the example.

First, a buyer logs onto the online system and creates an RFQ that includes all the technical details, logistical requirements and CAD files. Upon completing the RFQ, the buyer instantly sees a number of shops to whom the RFQ was “auto-matched” based on their equipment, expertise, capacity and credentials. Here, a buyer discovers shops he probably hasn't heard of, and based on the needed skill set and machine capabilities, he can accommodate his job in the most efficient manner. He can then review the list of matched shops and can optionally add or subtract shops from the list to create a custom distribution list. Once he has determined the most appropriate job shops, he distributes the RFQ to multiple shops instantly. The buyer saves hours in time previously spent locating suppliers and creating and mailing quote packages.

Once suppliers review the RFQ and the drawing, they may have questions about the project. If so, they can use the online system to collaborate with the buyer privately. Buyers love this method because all the correspondence related to an RFQ is stored in one place and is associated with the RFQ for historical and audit trail purposes.

When a supplier is ready to quote, they use the online quote preparation tool to create a quote and privately submit it to the buyer. The buyer then receives all the quotes in one location for easy
comparison.

As a buyer reviews the quotes online, he can perform due diligence on the suppliers by reviewing their multi-media profile and reading ratings from other buyers that they have previously conducted business with. While online, he can then send private messages to suppliers to clarify their quotes or negotiate, and ultimately award the job to a supplier.

When considering the time and efficiency buyers are seeing from using online marketplaces, it is easy to understand why the volume of RFQs being processed online is growing at an exponential rate. If you haven't already done so, get involved in an online marketplace, and learn how to make it work for you. The phone calls from buyers contacting you directly will rapidly decline as they move online to the marketplaces. You will also open the door to greater and more profitable opportunities for your company.

Mitch Free is president & CEO of MfgQuote.com, Atlanta, Georgia. He can be reached at (770) 444-9686, ext. 2946 or at mfree@mfgquote.com