A new marine Web portal, Marex, has something other Internet hubs can only dream of: exclusivity.
The procurement site (www.marex.com) was launched in late June by Miami-based Marex.com Inc. Boat builders and their suppliers can use the site only by signing a long-term contract. The deal, typically for five to seven years, disallows those companies from trading products over any other marine-based Web site.
What's the possible downside? With the exclusivity clause, boat builders could limit suppliers' competitive options. You'd think there'd be a hue and cry from those that don't want to be tied to one Internet model. But think again; Marex has signed more than 100 companies, including 37 global boat builders.
Banding together works in the fragmented marine industry, said Marex spokeswoman Sara Wilkins. The company is entering its growth phase, reducing its start-up work force and operating expenses.
Both sides pay to use the site: Buyers and sellers each pay about 2.5 percent of a transaction price to Marex, Wilkins said.
But Marex does not have all boat builders yet at its dock. And the publicly held company lost $36.4 million for the first nine months of 2000 on sales of only $11,468.
Yet, Marex expects transaction volume to climb from about $1 million this year to upward of $1.5 billion by 2003, Wilkins said. Its business model bears watching.
Match game: Connect the back end to the front end and you end up with a new partnership by dot-com players getPlastic.com Inc. and Apps4biz.com.
Burlington, Mass.-based getPlastic sells engineered materials and offers a resin evaluation tool, Resinate.
Apps4biz, located a few miles away in Andover, Mass., does behind-the-scenes Web hosting of smaller firms that need inventory management, order processing and other business services.
In March, the two companies plan to test a new agreement with several molders. A processor on Apps4biz's Web site will be able to ask for, say, 10,000 pounds of resin from getPlastic, said Peter Lopes, Apps4biz vice president of marketing.
Apps4biz will process the online request for quote and place the order. Meanwhile, processors on getPlastic's site can plan inventory and check order status by clicking an icon to Apps4biz, said getPlastic marketing director Steven Iannelli.
"It will save a company from the evil of having to enter an order twice," Iannelli said.
Amid a flurry of recent dot-com partnerships, this agreement makes sense. Apps4biz plans to go live in March and add tooling and indirect material purchases by year's end, Lopes said.
Pryweller, an Akron, Ohio-based senior reporter for Plastics News, covers e-business and mold making.