Are you looking for a commerce platform where sourcing raw materials are simple, from search to logistics? In this episode of The Chemical Show, Scott Barrows, the CEO of BluePallet shares how they are building digital commerce solutions for the chemical industry. Scott also shares that they are studying what’s happened in the past, not only the platforms in the chemical industry that have come and gone but also how technology digitization of commerce has affected other industries that have maybe a little bit further along. With the concerns about marketplaces creating a level of standardization that can take away the unique value that the company provides or that distributor provides to its customers, Scott explains how they turn that around and how that plays out. Tune in to this insightful episode to hear more about an end-to-end chemical commerce platform that provides solutions for search, logistics, transactions, and everything in between!
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BluePallet: Building Digital Commerce Solutions For The Chemical Industry With Scott Barrows
In this episode, I am speaking with Scott Barrows, who is the CEO and Cofounder of BluePallet. It is an industry marketplace in the chemical industry. We talked about it previously when Austin Britts was on the show. Scott has experience in a lot of digital. Previously, he built a marketplace platform in the event ticketing industry that was eventually acquired by Live Nation/Ticketmaster. He’s taken those learnings along with some other insights. He and his team have worked together to develop BluePallet. Scott, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
I’m glad to have you here. What is your origin story? How did you get into this world of digital and then how did you take that from where you were with event ticketing into the chemical industry?
I was learning about your history and how involved you’ve been with the chemical industry for pretty much the entirety of your career. My path is slightly different. We’d built a platform before for the event ticket industry and that’s where I learned about platforms, networks and network effects. When my responsibilities were done with Live Nation or Ticketmaster years ago, Austin and I went to school together. Another gentleman, Kevin Fuller, has been trading chemicals for about fifteen years out of college. I was always intrigued by the industry and would always ask him, “What’s it like to do a typical transaction? How does that happen? What needs to be done? How long does it take?”
I was amazed at how large the industry was and how long it would take to do a typical procurement process. Our origin started when we found out that there is the National Association of Chemical Distributors annual meeting happening down in San Antonio. Myself and Austin decided to fly down there on a whim. I’d printed out a flip book of images of the platform that would be built for a different industry.
I put isopropanol on every single one and walked around the meeting room and said, “Would anyone sit down and look at something that we built for a previous industry? I’m curious if we could provide any value for your industry. We don’t even know if we’re necessarily going to give it a shot, but we’re curious.” We got mixed results on that. It’s like, “We’re good. We’ve been running this industry for a long time and it’s going to continue to run that way, but good luck on your project and respectfully.” The other half of the room is like, “We know something’s coming, but we haven’t seen anyone take the time to respect our industry.”
There are all these other B2B one-size fits all platforms and everyone sees that we’re this huge industry as well and they’re trying to cram us of that. People don’t understand the complexities of our products, logistics or regulations tied to them until people take the time to do that, the risk isn’t worth the reward. That was interesting to hear as well. We knew that if we were going to embark on this journey, that we were going to have to take the time to learn and listen before we even started building anything. We were members of the NACD for three and a half years before we even had a product like an MVP.
You were in listening and learning mode for a very long time.
We were flying around in Mineral Wells, Texas and Talala, Oklahoma and walking around different chemical plants, distribution centers, and warehouses, talking to all levels of warehouse managers, VPs of sales and CFOs. We’re like, “What scares the hell out of you about digital commerce for chemicals and what do we need to be taken into consideration?” We would create an iteration and then ask, “What are we still missing?” I have so much thanks for the NACD leadership. That’s who we leaned on in the early years of saying like, “Push us on this. You don’t have to back us. You don’t have to say everyone used BluePallet.” We were an ecosystem back then.
The onus is on us. We’re the ones saying, “We want to come into your industry. It’s our responsibility to create a safe and secure way for your members to eCommerce. Push us.” They did relentlessly, but it paid off. That’s been our path. We’ve been at it for six years, but in the first 3.5 years, we didn’t even have a product. It was taking notes, speaking with people, hearing their concerns and what they want to be built in an ideal situation, and understanding what was important to a distributor versus a supplier versus a manufacturer or an end user or consumer.
What have you guys learned through that time? You’ve learned a lot through that time. We’re still in many ways in the early days. I started doing e-business and chemicals many years ago, as crazy as it is. To a certain degree, much has not changed. There are a lot of barriers. What do you see as the biggest barriers to digital and chemicals nowadays?
Are you talking about the technology side or the eyes of maybe a distributor supplier?
How about both? Let’s talk about adoption and the actual digitization side as well. What’s the biggest barrier to getting people to adapt to digital?
It’s time, resources and the last one is trust. We’ve been working hard. We acknowledge that. We talk to our members and prospective members and be like, “Where’s the friction here? What can we at least do to remove that?” When you look at time and resources, we’ve worked hard continuing to rescope our product while we have an extremely high-tech vetting process for the companies that come on. We’ve reduced that to fifteen minutes. We check over 2,000 different data points on a company that goes through this trade pass application. New members come on and they buy the same day.
For a seller, that typically takes up to one week. We’ve got a new customer success team that helps with the onboarding and digitization of products. We want to reduce the time as much as possible for someone to get on because we understand that time is valuable in this industry. Resources were a big thing, too, when you are a VP of sales or a C-Suite executive. You’re looking at it and you’re like, “I know we did an ERP integration and that took us eighteen months. I don’t want to go through that again.”
Pure pain and agony.
“If your platform’s going to even get me one sale, there’s no way. It’s not apples to apples.” The average member or company on our platform only has one user. Someone comes on, they have a trade pass administrator, our customer success team takes them through the onboarding process, which for a buyer, it’s the same day and for a seller, it’s a week. They’re up and running. They only need one resource. Typically, the successful way of doing it so far is the company will get one administrator that can get the products up.
You find an account executive or procurement agent that’s either youthful in age or youthful in spirit, that like technology and wants to try out new things and say, “Here are the parameters that will give you to operate on this and give this a shot for us.” See if you can start moving some products and/or find new buying opportunities. If we hear that you’re hearing you’re seeing success, then we’ll continue on it. It’s not where you need to get on the intercom and tell 1,000 employees, “We’re all shifting to this new platform and this is how we’re going to do business. We changed it to the amount of resources.” There are 1 or 2 max to get things going.
It’s interesting because the other piece I think that’s a barrier across the industry, the concern about the loss of a relationship. The chemical industry prides itself on being very relationship oriented. Buyers and sellers have known each other well and for years. The concern, I think, is that if they go digital and digital to a marketplace platform, they lose that relationship. How do you address that?
We’re addressing that in our 2.0 version. That’s something that’s been at the forefront of all of our decisions as it’s been a six-plus year journey and we go to all the NACD meetings. We are a member of the ACC now. We go to those meetings. We are getting to learn about different individuals and their personalities. When we first started as a platform, we focused so much on the company, which was important. We need to focus on how we bring value to the company and how we allow them to transact safely. As we learn about the industry more, how it operates and how the chemical industry is much different than any other entity, industry or sector, the individuals are the most important.
The negative thing that could ever happen from the digitization of commerce is that you ever dilute or lose the value of a relationship in the chemical industry. While we were excited that our 1.0 version which is up and running, and people are seeing a lot of success on it. It’s focused on companies coming on and being able to do an end-to-end transaction, move the money both the logistics. All that’s working and that’s great, but we wanted to push ourselves further. I’ve seen companies from the last many years that have come into this space. People have come up with either storefronts or a way to do a marketplace where a buyer and seller connect, and then someone sits in the middle.
That model may be good for maybe 10% of the types of transactions, either that happen now or they’re going to happen in the next years when stuff gets digitized. The other 90% of transactions that happen are exactly what you were saying. These are generational-type relationships that have happened between family-owned businesses that have been working with suppliers within their community or their region.
These are major suppliers that have long standing relationships with distributors. There’s no way or should I ever expect as someone that runs a platform that I could go to a major supplier that’s been doing business with a major distributor and say, “I created this much more efficient way for you to be able to do your transaction online. What I’d like to do is get you to do that online and then I’m going to take 4%.” No way.
Especially in an industry that’s highly commoditized. What we’ve been pushing ourselves at is we are not a distributor. We’ll never be a distributor. We’ll never own a product. We are a technology platform and that is it. How do we absolutely get out of the way and empower the individuals within this industry? What we were building in 2.0, I can’t go too far into it, but what it does is it emboldens and empowers the individuals.
If you are a good account executive or procurement agent and if you’re a good company doing the right things, we are going to highlight that and we’re going to highlight you, we are the horse and you are the knight. We will give you whatever tools we can give you or you continue to tell us what tools to build, allowing you to build your network and connections to do business directly.
We get out of the way. If a company connects with the company directly on our platform, distributor A and supplier D connect, if they make a direct connection, we take no service fee on that. Supplier charges $1 a pound. The distributor buys it for $1 a pound. We move that money. We don’t touch it. That’s going to move down to an individual level here in 2.0. We are trying to understand, appreciate and respect how relationships work in the chemical industry and how important they are and do that through technology.We need to understand, appreciate and respect how relationships work in the chemical industry. Click To Tweet
Nowadays, the platform is about discovery and transactions. It’s migrating to ongoing relationship-based transactions.
That’s a fair assessment. Nowadays, where distributors and suppliers are seeing early wins, we focus a lot on SMEs. We’ve got all sizes and some of the top five on there, but our core focus is on the SMEs. Some of the best stories we’ve seen are from regional distributors. For example, on the East Coast or Midwest, they may only sell out of 4 or 5 states. On the platform, they can use our permission-based controls and say, “I want to also broadcast this to California.” They’ve never sold a drum in California ever. They would never even try, but it costs them nothing to also broadcast it in that state or on the entire West Coast.
All of a sudden, they’re seeing that they’re getting orders from the West Coast and they’re now selling into these new regions that they would never have been able to do. Due to how our pricing model works on the marketplace component, where we mark our rate up to 4%, they get the dollar back that they want per pound, kg or whatever. It’s not charging them anything. They’re able to put it on there and see if they get a hit. They’re like, “I’ve got a strong position on this product that I have coming into Newark and it’s tight on the West Coast. I’m even able to go up 10% or 15% and it’s able to travel cross country.” Those ones have been great.
You’ve got some of the things too that have been interesting. “We have suppliers that have been utilizing the platform to source tail and spend.” They’re coming back and buying from the distributor. Some of the suppliers have been our biggest buyers. Also, we’ve got end customers that have maybe overbought, then maybe they’re a soap manufacturing company or maybe they were producing products for COVID-19.
They have an excess of hydrogen peroxide, isopropanol or whatever, instead of sending it to a landfill or incinerator, they can easily, in a couple of clicks, post that, backs it up to the network, sell that and maybe get back at least 50% on $1 or maybe even more if that product has gone up. It’s interesting to see how everyone’s utilizing the system. Everyone’s different.
What’s the typical profile of a company or a business that’s using your platform?
We’ve been tracking it. We had assumptions and they’re all wrong. By design, we left it open where we refer to ourselves as a decentralized platform. We don’t want to have just a fixed flow of a transaction. We don’t want to be just a supplier or distributor to an end customer because that’s not how the chemical industry works, especially when times get tough and the supply chain gets messed up.
Allowing any member to come on to either buy or sell is important, especially in that example where the suppliers have been some of the biggest buyers, is critical. The main persona that we focus on is the SME. The $250 million and below is the main size company that we’re looking at to get in and try out the system. Those are the ones that are seeing the biggest and quickest gains because they don’t have the marketing or sales dollars that they can go out and try new regions without that being heavy on capital.
It’s like, “Let’s spread your territory or your footprint,” or they can source products off the platform and flip it to their customers. SME would have to say, “I’ve identified that I’ve got five customers that are buying this particular product somewhere else. I now need to make a decision. Am I going to invest in that and do the MOQ with my supplier and then cross my fingers that they’re going to fill up these orders? That’s a huge amount of risk on my balance sheet.” They don’t have to do that anymore or at least they have another option where we have customers that sit on the system and they’ll have a customer on the phone, they’ll pull up the BluePallet marketplace and they’re like, “Do you need toxic or acidic, we’ve got that.”
They can literally drop ship it, double-blind off our platform and send it right to their customer’s warehouse. It looks like it’s coming from them. They can just put their mark up in their own ERP system. I’m not telling you not to use it. I’m saying SMEs are the ones that probably have the most to gain immediately because there are many efficiencies without having to spend capital.
In this context, SME stands for?
Small and Medium-sized Enterprise.
I got to that place eventually. This is businesses under what?
$250,000 to $500 million. That’s not a small business by any means.
Those that can’t otherwise invest in their own platforms perhaps or need the extra resources and capabilities.
Going back to the point you had the question earlier on studying what’s happened before in the past. Not only have we studied the platforms and the chemical industry that have come and gone, but also how technology digitization of commerce has affected other industries that have maybe a little bit further along.
The small and medium-sized enterprises had the most to gain and the most to risk. They’re in a vulnerable position. All of a sudden, if I’m a $50 million a year distributor out of Massachusetts or New Jersey, I shouldn’t have to be responsible for also building a digital platform to be able to promote my products or even creating a full web store or website is a big thing to ask a company that’s focused on chemicals.
One thing that we pride ourselves in is we’re going to be the ones that will provide you with the greatest tool you can possibly ask for and you can continue to ask us to build it for you. Everyone’s going to get the same tool. That small distributor in Massachusetts or New Jersey is going to have the exact same tool as one of the world’s largest suppliers.
We’ll treat everyone equally and we do, but they’ll have the same opportunity and they’ll be on the same playing field then it’s like, “Who’s going to serve their customers best? Who’s going to have the best order acceptance rate? Who’s going to have the best on-time delivery?” It comes down to, “Who’s treating the customer the best? Who’s delivering the best?” That’s what we want to shine.
One of the areas I personally have a concern about when I think about it from a business lens is that a lot of value is based on the unique customer experiences that each company provides to their customers. It’s based on having imperfect information. To a certain degree, it’s the fact that you have something I need. I have something you need. That creates that dynamic, opportunity and value. There’s a concern sometimes that marketplaces create this level of standardization and it takes away the unique value that company A or distributor A provides to its customers. How do you get around that? Is this true? Do you see it manifesting differently? How does that play out?
First off, I completely agree. It’s been at the forefront of a lot of the decision-making. I’ve seen it happen in my previous industry. It was a cautionary tale to watch it develop where in the event ticket industry, my platform was built a lot for the resellers, ticket brokers, scalpers or whatever you want to call them. It was the ticket resellers and ticket brokers. You would probably deem them as the distributors in that kind of ecosystem. They’re not the main suppliers, but they’re buying and then reselling. It was big for a long time of having individual relationships with the broker, then all of a sudden, StubHub and Vivid Seat came out.
Pricing transparency was at its max. Before, there was no transparency. It was like whoever I could find their number in the local newspaper and call them, that’s where I got my pricing. Everybody knew what the price was for a particular ticket in a particular game and section in a row. As a seller, less and less it became important to who you are or if you did business with integrity, always delivering your tickets on time, having the right location, anything like that, if you had a personal relationship or took that customer out to a game yourself, that was all gone. It went to, “Can’t I be the lowest price by $0.50? If I can, I will get the next sale.”
I can’t control the entire industry, but that is what we’re working on avoiding in our platform. One of the ways we are able to do it is through our permission-based marketplace controls. If I’m a seller or distributor and I have a drum of acetic acid, I don’t know why I keep using acetic, but I am going to roll with it. I could say, “I want Victoria to see that drum, but I don’t want Bob to see it.” I could also say, “I want Victoria to see it at a 2% discount, but I want Susie to see it at a 2% increase.” You’re talking about three people that are going to log into the group pilot marketplace and see a completely different view. You’re going to see different products and different prices.
Managing back to the kind of the individual relationship that buyers and sellers have.
It’s the individual relationship and experience in view of the market. When I look back at the previous industry, the biggest risk and it’s probably the same for this industry as well, is that I don’t want pricing to become commoditized. I don’t want you to talk about models that were horrible for the industry. For a lot of the participants, when they first came out, it was the reverse auctions. They’re like, “I’m not going to sit here and be a part of some technology that makes me have to continue to bid down a penny until I’m the last one to tap out.” That’s also what can happen when pricing gets commoditized in a platform or marketplace.
That’s why this one aspect was that if you, Victoria, log onto the marketplace and you’re looking at the acetic acid and trying to figure out what you’re going to price yours at, you could come in one penny less than what I have on that. It doesn’t mean that’s what Susie’s going to see as the lowest price because I may be discounting to Susie. That helps keep friction in the marketplace and pricing, which is paramount for all distributors and suppliers. End customers and end buyers are still getting an immense amount of value by having access to more products. We still want to keep some control of some security around the distributors and suppliers. That pricing friction has to remain there.
If not, then all of a sudden, this becomes weaponized against suppliers and distributors. It erodes their value. It doesn’t allow them to provide the value they want to back to customers. In the second part, talking about going back to that example where I was a distributor or a ticket broker in the previous industry, it didn’t matter if I did business with integrity, what my logo was or what my company history was. All I was a wholesaler pushing out inventory and then hoping to be the lowest price.
What we are building in the platform is being able to differentiate between a good and bad distributor or a better and good supplier. We’ll do that in our technology by searching for a company that has certain ISOcerts or may be able to help my ESG initiatives or if a woman, minority or LGBTQ-owned company.
I may have spending initiatives where I need to check the boxes and do certain percentages through those certain groups. As we get more and more transactions going through the system, one of the positives that I saw in my previous industry was being able to track, “How often is this person shipping their products on time and how often is it being delivered on time? How quickly are they to confirm an order? What is their order acceptance rate? What is the rating on the product that gets delivered? How many times has it been returned?”
Once you’re able to provide that information back to a customer and that’s going to be driving their decision making, then that encourages either maybe some distributors or suppliers that aren’t quite providing the best service to do better, but then it also highlights the ones that are doing business well. That allows the good ones to stand out. That’s what’s important.
The marketplace is anonymous, that one component of our platform, but that’s where the majority of the transactions are going now. The majority of the transactions at the end of the day are going to go through the network. The platform and technology are getting out of the way and allowing parties and businesses to do transactions that they do, but have a little bit better way of doing it.
What factors do chemical companies consider when looking at online selling? What are the things that are important there?
The first one is don’t let the platform dictate what your strategy is. You dictate what your strategy is for your company. That’s great that there are a lot of different technologies coming out. What BluePallet does may not fit exactly what someone else’s strategy is. That’s why it’s great that there are other platforms that are out there and like, “We want X.” That’s not exactly what BluePallet specializes in. There is one that is great in that or when we’re looking to get into a certain region, there are other marketplaces that are out in that region and maybe BluePallet is not there.
Don’t let technology dictate your plan. You dictate your plan, and then you find the technology that’s able to provide it for you. It is important. Number two and one that gets missed by a lot of platforms, and that I think that the industry needs to continue to demand that it becomes a priority, is network integrity. That was one if not the first thing NACD leadership and members said, “You have to get this right.”
What does that mean?
That means you go on an Amazon business. I have no idea who that individual is that’s buying that platform or what their intentions are. They haven’t been vetted. I don’t know if they have a DEA certification tied to their warehouse or their use case. That’s where you go into an open marketplace. Anyone’s going on there, buying product, “I have no control. I’m unable to do responsible distribution.” That’s a huge concern. Also, if I have a regional restriction, say with the supplier, “I’m only allowed to sell in the Midwest,” I go up on an open marketplace. Someone buys it in New Mexico and I’ve all of a sudden gone against my contract. My supplier and I can lose that.
Having a closed network and a private network is critical. It should be table stakes for any system that allows someone to buy or sell chemicals to absolutely be able to vet and verify the identity of not even every company but every individual that’s on that platform as well. I feel like a lot of the other platforms have fallen short on that. I’ve challenged everyone to take that into consideration because, as I was saying in the original story, “A lot of the reason why people have been staying on the sideline is the risk isn’t worth the reward.”
We took almost a year to go through with DEA, DHS, DOT and EPA to bring in the chemicals of interest list and all those different lists 1 or list 2, “How do those interact with each other? What permissions need to be put in place? What certifications need to be tied to a warehouse to allow someone to be able to ship it to that warehouse? What certification or authorized signature needs to be in place for someone to be able to buy or sell that within an organization?”
None of that is sexy or fun, but it’s required or it should be required. Maybe if you’re just selling a completely non-hazardous product, you don’t have any regional restrictions, it’s not a big deal. It’s not that big a risk. Maybe I would be more willing as a seller if I put myself in the shoes to put that on a platform. You see that a lot of Amazon businesses where people are putting on have commoditized products on there.
It’s totally fine. Use as many channels as you can as long as the risk isn’t there. As soon as you start getting into hazardous products, DHS, chemicals of interest or something like that, you got to make sure that the technology is supporting you and providing an environment that is safe and secure for you to do that business.
That has been one of the biggest hurdles for a lot of companies. It is the fact that buyers and sellers have to be vetted, not just creditworthiness which in some ways is maybe the easiest, but it is, as you say, that they’re able to accept and safely use the products that are being sold to them. Having that integrity is critical. It’s a big part of what happens before a sale is even made. There’s a lot of vetting that goes on in real life before a sale is made. That needs to happen as you introduce potential new customers to a marketplace.
One of the things we worked with our members on is, “What do you do currently to onboard a new customer and what do you look at to make sure that you feel comfortable doing commerce with them?” In our trade pass technology, we started with five vetting items so that a member could set their own levels of what they want. The ones that our members told us what they wanted to check. It was aggregated insurance levels. They could say, “Anybody that I’m doing business with has to have at least $1 million aggregated insurance or $2.5 million.” We check that on every company and monitor it every 30 days, their credit risk score liens and violations.
If all of a sudden, someone has a bankruptcy loan or anything like that, they’re notified right away. They’re not the ones caught catching the falling knife. Days beyond the term, if that all of a sudden starts creeping up, they’re notified as well. The last one was a surprise for us, but the fifth one was social presence. It was important for members. This is their domain handle or for their email. I want to make sure they at least have a website plus a Twitter handle or something like that.
They’re a legitimate company.
If they have 300 followers, I trust that. Those five items are the first ones that we put in there. It does allow members to make connections quicker. On the trade fast process and onboarding, we also vet, verify and link with bank accounts. If our two companies connect and within the parameters that maybe my CFO or whatever it’s set for who we feel comfortable trading with, we can do a transaction that day. If I find a product that you have and I like, and the system sets the terms and I’m like, “This is net 30,” the system knows when to pull the money. It gets sent via ACH and everything’s done.
One of the other success stories that companies are having is they’re taking maybe some of their more at-risk customers or ones that would be a little bit more difficult to onboard and say, “We’re going to broadcast or share our catalog with you on BluePallet. You have to get vetted through their trade pass, then you’ll see our products at our cost.” You’ll be able to buy and sell through there, at least allowing them to monitor them without any cost.
The question here is whether digital adoption, especially for marketplaces, certainly helped by the supply disruptions we saw over the last couple of years. All of a sudden, when COVID hit, the world went topsy-turvy and it was hard to get products, people were scrambling for new suppliers. There was absolutely an interest in figuring out, “How do I capture and find new suppliers or find new customers?” That certainly helped digital adoption. As we start to settle out, assuming we do, we’ve got a lot of other disruptions it seems at play. What do you see as the future of eCommerce and chemicals? In some ways, we’re at some inflection points. What do you see as the point of where we are and where we’re going?
You are right that this forces some people’s hands to when you’re super comfortable and everything’s going your way. You don’t have a lot of motivation to change anything when things get tough, then all of a sudden, you’re forced to find new solutions. One of the biggest shames that could happen from the last two years is that we don’t learn anything from it. We just go back to how we were or assume that just because we made it through the hard part that this is never going to happen again. Instead of looking at 2 years, if we zoom out 50 years, anybody that’s been in the industry for a while will agree that there’s a continuous flow, tipping back and forth between supply and demand.When things get tough, you're forced to find new solutions all of a sudden. Click To Tweet
This is another example. At the very beginning of COVID when it hit, distributors were getting hit hard and they were eager to find additional channels. Their operations were getting hit. They weren’t able to bring people in. They’re having a tough time connecting with their customers. There is a whole slew of challenges. That was a good time for us as a platform to talk to distributors and suppliers. They were more eager to get on, then all of a sudden, supply got tight and the end customers or the people that are trying to produce certain products, their regular channels dried up. Now they’re desperate to find some drum or tote to make sure that they can keep their production line open.
Now, everyone’s bought enough, but maybe some people have bought too much. Maybe some people’s warehouses are getting a little bit too full on the distribution or supplier side and they’re going to be more eager to find additional channels. On the customer or the producer side, they’re like, “My local distributor is calling me and they’ve got supply in their warehouse.”
It’s going to go up and down on both sides continuously. What we see as a platform is we don’t want to be reliant on the transaction. We want to be relying on providing the value of continuous connections and commerce. I hope that everyone can see on the supply and buy sides that there is value in supply chain resiliency and building a larger network. It’s completely fine to the guy that you’ve gone on twenty fishing trips with and you built the best relationship, that person should continue to be your supplier distributor or whatever.There is value in supply chain resilience and building a larger network. Click To Tweet
That’s important to have that relationship. If that person may run out of product and you don’t want your plant to shut down, how do you keep from that happening? You build a larger network. You connect to other individuals, companies or sources that you can find to make sure that if, for some reason, Bob or whoever can’t get that drum that you need, then you’ve got a backup source on that.
The same thing with suppliers and distributors. You have a book of business in a Rolodex and that’s a good amount of business for you, but once you’ve got overflow, got too much in your balance sheet or in the warehouse, you’re going to need additional channels because the customers you have can’t consume that excess. Investing a small amount of time to get that set up and maybe it’s not as valuable at maybe this date, but it’s in place. You’re ready to go.
You think everything’s fine and then all of a sudden, a hurricane hits Florida and you’re like, “The plant that we source is out of Gainesville.” It’s like, “How do we react?” Don’t be reactionary. Be ahead of the curve. Plan Florida ahead of time now. Let’s learn from this experience. I do believe that when technology and digitization have done right. It also has the component of building a network and allowing individuals to connect to each other, which will reduce the pain and suffering we had to go through these last years.
What’s next for BluePallet? Many years in, what’s the next you’re going to bring?
Continue to listen. That’s how we get to where we at for the last few years. Everything’s completely built on the feedback, ideas, thoughts and concepts of distributors and suppliers of the chemical industry. What we need to continue to do is close our mouths and understand what our role is. We are here to support through technology, continue to listen, build, and repeat. We’re here to serve the chemical industry in any way that we can through technology.
Thank you for joining me. This has been great. I love to know your perspective on what’s going on in the world, the chemicals and digital.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.
Thank you for reading. Keep reading, following and sharing. We’ll talk to you again soon.
- Austin Britts – Previous episode
About Scott Barrows
Scott Barrows is the CEO and Co-Founder of BluePallet. Barrows’ previous efforts were focused on building a marketplace platform for the event ticketing industry that was eventually acquired by LiveNation/Ticketmaster and now Scott and his team has been heads down the past six years in building digital commerce solutions for the chemical industry.
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