The BFGoodrich Co. will make its initial foray into the electronic-business arena in October, when its Performance Materials division launches a business-to-business e-commerce Web site for customers of its specialty chemicals, plastics, additives and other products.
The new Internet ordering system, which uses software from SpaceWorks Inc. in Rockville, Md., will first be available to 20 pilot customers. Rollout to customers in Europe and Asia is scheduled for next year.
"The new e-business software will give our customers another mechanism to buy products. They won't have to call customer service," said Todd Nelson, director of global information technology at the Cleveland-based division.
The firm also plans to offer different classes of electronic-business services to customers, Nelson said. For example, the most strategic customers will have access to warehousing information so they can figure shipping times and costs into their buying plans.
"There's also potential for revenue generation, since customers we don't reach today will be able to go to our Web site and place an order right there," Nelson said.
The industrial sector has been relatively slow to migrate sales and other business operations to the Internet, said Lisa Williams, an analyst at The Yankee Group Inc. in Boston.
The main reason, she said, is that industrial companies need to treat each of their customers uniquely and the software to do that on the Internet hasn't been widely available.