SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL (March 23, 4:40 p.m. EST) — Plastics companies in Brazil have yet to overcome technological, logistical and cultural barriers before electronic commerce can take off.
"There are only a handful of processors that are technologically integrated on and beyond an eventual internal PC network," said Luis Laino Luisi, plastics director at consulting firm Kline & Co.´s branch in Brazil. "Using the network just to computerize the business is a first step, but insufficient for taking full advantage of e-commerce."
Luisi was a speaker at the eplásticos2001 conference, held March 12 in São Paulo.
The consultant cited a recent study that estimates 20 percent of companies are connected to the Internet in Brazil. Most of the time, small and midsize processors use the Internet just to send and receive e-mail. Few use it to transmit data.
Luisi pointed to some supply-chain-related exceptions, where customers are encouraging processors to adopt e-commerce.
"(But) this attempt to integrate the supply chain generally is interrupted somewhere between the molder and the raw material supplier," he said.
Resin distributors, which focus mainly on serving small companies, must live with processors´ lack of familiarity with the Web. Amarildo Bazan, business manager at the São Paulo-based resin distributor SPP Agaprint Industrial Comercial Ltda., has some input on the matter.
"I travel throughout the entire country and know what plastics molders are all about. Many of them are small, family-owned businesses, run by their founders and located far from big industrial centers.
"When I ask them for their e-mail address, they usually turn to their sons and ask: `Do we have e-mail here?´ In other cases, they send their orders using the Internet and soon after call to check whether I received it all right."
Representatives of PET resin supplier Eastman Chemical Co., GE Plastics´ distribution unit GE Polymerland, plastics industry portal Latinplásticos.com and other firms at the conference said the industry is shifting toward e-business.
"I have noticed a great deal of change over the past eight months in Brazil," said Rodrigo Palma, chief executive officer of Latinplásticos. "It seems to me that it doesn´t matter if you are big or small, but whether you are aggressive. I have seen a lot of small companies that prefer doing everything through the Internet."