The value of the Internet has often been framed in terms of doing business faster, smarter, and more directly. Sure enough, we have witnessed tremendous growth in the business-to-consumer arena, where transactions are performed with the click of a mouse. These transactions mirror other forms of shopping (retail and catalog) and have therefore been embraced by the public at large.
But what about more complex transactions like purchasing used capital equipment? Up until now, sites that have attempted to facilitate these more complicated transactions may have caused more problems than they solved--mostly because they do not emulate business practices buyers and sellers embrace.
Auction sites provide a good example. Auctions have their place and are ideally suited to efficient liquidation, but the vast majority of transactions require direct contact between the buyer and seller, and this is lost in the auction process. Perhaps the buyer needs more detailed information regarding the condition of the equipment or whether there is a warranty. Or maybe the buyer needs the equipment in a shorter time frame than the bidding period allows. Auctions also do not adequately address the needs to establish terms for appraisal, shipping, finance, and other services.
The vast majority of websites on the Internet have not been maximized as a tool to establish and retain business relationships. Many current B2B (business-to-business) websites require a buyer to purchase from an unidentified seller. Even if the buyer is thrilled with the outcome, there is no guarantee he or she will connect with the same seller the next time around.
After weighing the above points, the formula for online success becomes clear: The more complex the transaction, the more it needs to reflect current business practices. In other words, don't ask people to change the way they are used to doing business, simply improve it.
When we set out to start an online company that would address the needs of buyers and sellers of used industrial equipment, we recognized four needs that had to be met to ensure success.
Make equipment easy to find. Buyers don't want to waste precious time looking for the equipment they need to keep their operation up and running. On our site, eSprocket.com, we have North America's largest inventory of used metalworking...