See Box, c Box Bid

I was recently alerted to a new niche play in the sourcing market by the name of cBoxBid for buyers and sellers of, you guessed it, cardboard boxes. And just like you’re asking now, the first thing I asked is why would we need a marketplace just for boxes … after all, we have a large number of generic marketplaces already, not to mention a plethora of e-Sourcing applications that can be used to source boxes to your heart’s content.

The answer is we don’t, as there are dozens of ways to source boxes, unless you are a buyer who wants to get the best price possible on your box order. Cardboard boxes, and RSC boxes in particular, are the commodities of commodities … there are over 5,000 plants in the US alone that can make that RSC box for you. Some cities, like Atlanta, have 60 – 70 manufacturers in the local area that can make your box. And unless you’re an expert in the cardboard box marketplace, which you’re probably not if your job is to strategically source critical parts and materials, you’re probably not going to know which manufacturers are going to be able to give you the best quote, which is largely based on their current capacity utilization, at any one time.

Plus, it benefits the supplier, who is able to find more opportunities to increase production without having to spend thousands of dollars on potential client site visits. The average manufacturer is currently operating at 48 to 55% capacity, and spends an average of $700 to $1,000 for every three site visits by its sales force in its local area. A marketplace will bring it dozens, and maybe hundreds, of opportunities for the same price.

Moreover, because the marketplace is built around one commodity, the template is built in. This makes it trivial for a buyer to create a new request, and even more trivial for a supplier to find the requests that best matches their particular capabilities and production lines, and the requests that they can manufacturer cheapest. All a buyer has to do is define the production date, printing, style, wall, board weight/flute, board color, glue tab, dimensions, panel printing, warehousing requirements, quantity, delivery requirements, and bid-by date and the quote is ready to go. All the supplier has to do is enter a price. And the true market price is revealed.

The platform also offers buyers anonymity, suppliers accurate contact information of interested buyers, and both parties the opportunity to explore a potential transaction without a binding contract. A buyer places a bid, suppliers respond, and then a buyer releases her information to the supplier(s) that submit acceptable bids. At this point, an award can be made through the system, through the buyer’s in-house e-Sourcing system, or either party can walk away if a conversation uncovers a misunderstanding.

The tool also supports buyer feedback, and captures ratings from other buyers who have used a supplier.

The tool is free to buyers, and suppliers pay a monthly fee for unlimited use of the system.