How Can Chemicals Trading be Made More Efficient?

20 January 2016

It is hard to remember the world before mobile phones, tablets and the Internet. It had its positive sides; life moved at a slower pace, we had more time to enjoy nature, read a book or enjoy the simpler things in life.

It also had its negative side; it was impossible to contact people unless you knew they were somewhere with a telephone and everyone was slower to receive information, waiting for the evening news or morning newspaper.

Shopping was a slower paced activity too, with all transactions made in person with cash or a document signed in ink. This made business a more personal affair, although a lack of information about all suppliers and buyers made the market inefficient and localised.

Today, the world is much smaller, trade is international and prices global. A coal miners’ strike in South Africa influences the price of not just coal, but all energy. This in turn affects the price of other commodities, particularly those like chemicals that use a lot of energy.

Yet despite this global linking of information, many commodity markets are still very inefficient

Change has begun. The Internet is still relatively young, and yet Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba have begun to get the world buying and selling with the click of a mouse button or touch of a tablet. People use their phones to buy cinema tickets whilst on the train, compare airplane ticket prices when at the cinema and browse for train tickets at the airport.

So why is the chemicals industry still trading at conferences? Why do salesmen attempt to sell expensive barrels of products by ringing their way through a directory? Why does a one on one conversation seem to be the best way to meet a potential business partner?

Technology has moved trading in most industries onwards and upwards, but in many ways, the chemicals market is still stuck in the past.

For years, many experts have been predicting that online B2B chemicals markets would become a reality, much as stocks and shares are traded online, or second hand cars are bought and sold. And that vision is now a fact, for a new generation of chemical trading platforms is emerging online, that are set to revolutionise the way chemical traders find buyers and sellers.

Already Alibaba is trading in wholesale quantities of raw chemical feedstocks, whilst other specialist markets such as and have opened up trading hubs where offers to buy and sell are made round the clock.

The openness and transparency of these services make for such ease of business, where prices, terms and conditions, logistics, supply of samples, technical specification control and red tape can all be negotiated seamlessly.

So if you are an industrial chemicals trader, and if it just takes a few clicks to place an offer to buy or sell on an e-market such as for free, then why haven’t you tried it yet?