New B-2-B Sites Streamline Buying Group Operations

By Tedra Meyer On May 21 2001 - 6:00am




Appliance and electronics buying group Associated Volume Buyers (AVB) has implemented a new online product ordering option for its member dealers, while fellow buying group MARTA Cooperative of America is celebrating the first million dollars transacted over its own b-to-b Web site, which it introduced in mid-February.

AVB's Web-based ordering system, which was developed by JGSullivan Interactive Inc. and launched earlier this month, allows the buying group's members to order wholesale product from its local warehouses 24-7, said Bob Donaldson, e-commerce manager with Brand Source, the group's branding program. The system also lets member retailers check their order status and receive invoicing directly from the group's finance division.

The new system could "save a sale," said Donaldson, giving the example of a customer walking into a store after 6 p.m. and wanting an out-of-stock product. "The retailer could log on [after hours] and see if the product was at the regional warehouse and potentially save that sale."

In addition, members save money by getting "less than truckload quantities at less than truckload prices," he said.

When logging onto Brand Source Web site's backroom, a retailer is shown its credit line and then can proceed to order products from an AVB inventory list. When the order is placed, the system is integrated with the local warehouse, which fulfills the order and delivers the products. Finally, the system creates an electronic billing file that is securely sent to Transamerica, the group's distributor.

"We are once again leveraging our membership's high Internet usage to reach higher levels of business efficiency and create newer and better business and selling opportunities," said Bob Lawrence, executive director of AVB.

Related to this new program is Brand Source's warehouse project, which involves building 29 warehouses by the end of 2001. Two regional warehouses are already up and working, Donaldson said.

In related news, MARTA announced at the end of April that transactions placed through MyMarta.com have reached $1 million. Developed by ZMarket and launched in mid-February, MyMarta.com is a sell-side private exchange that connects MARTA members with vendors, partners and other dealers.

"It is remarkable that the MyMarta site went from zero dollars to nearly $1 million in transactions processed within the first few months, with an initial group of only about 10 members," said Warren Mann, executive director of MARTA.

In the wake of the new system's launch, MARTA has been approached by a number of vendors to participate in the private exchange, the group said.

"This technology represents a significant benefit to our members due to lower servicing costs and efficiency improvements in the supply process," Mann said.

Vendors using MyMarta.com can quickly distribute to dealers such material as catalogs; product, pricing and availability information; and promotions, incentives and marketing collateral. Dealers, in turn, benefit by creating electronic purchase orders and accessing real-time order and account status information.

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