Resellers have reacted angrily to the positive publicity over online business-to-business exchanges, claiming that the reality does not live up to the hype. Some have even said that trading hubs simply cannot work.
Keith Everest, account manager of Sanderson Systems, said: "We have signed to [Acequote.com], and have had no responses. I don't see how anyone will."
However, Acequote claimed that business is not guaranteed in this type of marketplace, and that the fault may be with the resellers. Helga St Blaize, communications director at Acequote, said: "We can only provide qualified leads. We cannot guarantee business. It is up to resellers to quote successfully."
David Jennings, account manager at reseller IBF Group, said that there are limitations which resellers must work around to be successful using this model. "I'm sure a lot of the companies who put up requests already know where their business is going," he said. "They are just trying to get their supplier to offer a cheaper deal. But we have picked up some very nice business as a result."
St Blaize conceded that price undercutting is a concern, but argued that this a teething problem. "At first there was a bit [of undercutting], but as we become more established there is less because the companies requesting products are getting to know the companies who are bidding," she said.
However, Sanderson claimed that the confidentiality offered by Acequote is a hindrance. Jennings agreed, and complained that often companies want to discuss more with customers but are unable to. "In order to give people more information we would include our contact details within the bid," he said.
St Blaize stressed that resellers must adapt. "With any new type of trading, people have to learn how to conduct business in a different way. It is different to talking the talk," she said.
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