• From B2B-exchange to e-marketplaces


    When e-commerce over the Internet was introduced, the operations were rightfully considered as B2B exchanges. Bringing buyers and sellers together, price discovery, and matching supply and demand were the main criteria bringing coffee traders and roasters to the Internet. Through specialization these B2B exchanges then developed into private exchanges or evolved into e-marketplaces, enlarging their scope to cover several commodities.

    These e-marketplaces facilitate the electronic execution of coffee contracts but this covers only the 'front-office' segment of trading coffee. The 'back-office' component (execution of contracts, shipments, payments) continues to be largely paper based. Logically, e-marketplaces need to be able to link the members of the coffee industry and service suppliers, so as to offer the best levels of service and data distribution to the back-offices and planning systems of exporters, traders, importers, roasters, warehouses and other service providers.

    Providing back-office functions to industry participants is where the Internet can bring efficiencies. Electronic exchanges such as Comdaq already conduct business on a global basis and several companies and organizations representing origin countries have also established private exchanges. Other application service providers offer integrated logistics services (back-office functions) direct or via such e-marketplaces. And, as mentioned previously, major shipping companies too are working on an electronic alternative for the present-day Bill of Lading. Their preferred solution may well come to be an industry standard that others will have to adapt to.

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