Plastikcity, a roughly year old plastics sourcing Web site in the United Kingdom, is planning a launch in the United States. The site matches buyers and sellers of auxiliary equipment, used machinery, machine financing, resins, various services, screws and barrels, heaters bands and automation equipment.
“Even though the sourcing or quotation procurement part of the site is a prominent section we believed to be successful, we also needed to offer more than this,” says Carl Futcher, the owner and managing director of Plastikcity. The additional features include supplier reviews, industry news (The Molding Blog is one of the sources), a polymer price index from Plastics Information Europe, and a variety of calculators (e.g., shrinkage rates, clamping force)
Futcher was sales director at Sandretto UK for 15 years before joining Negri Bossi in 2001. He also serves as managing director of Negri Bossi in Warwick.
“We knew if the site was successful in the UK it would have an even better chance of working in the USA due mainly to the greater geographical areas salesmen have to cover,” Futcher told The Molding Blog. “Our objective is not to remove the face-to-face contact that we believe is important, rather our model enables companies to procure bespoke quotations from qualified suppliers to gather information before short listing. At the time of placing orders buyers only need to conduct one or two meetings having all the required information to hand. This is more efficient to both buyers and sellers.”
Futcher declined to discuss the revenue model for Plastikcity. There are some ads on the site. Such sites may charge a fee to be listed or a fee per transaction.
I remember walking through the aisles at the National Plastics Exhibition at McCormick Place in 2000 and seeing somewhat extravagant booths of dotcoms eager to become plastic sourcing sites on the Web. There was significant investment in at least a couple, and as I recall they went belly up.
A site called plastics.com still exists, but the poll question on its Web site yesterday was “Do you plant to attend the NPE in 2012?” The link to the founder’s blog results in an error message. Not good signs.
One of the surviving players is mfg. com, founded by Mitch Free to create competition for manufacturing services (Freemarkets may have had a better idea). Another is ThomasNet, which transitioned from its bookshelves full of green directories to an Internet presence. Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, which back in the day was a back-breaking 34-volume buying guide, ceased as a print product in 2006.
Another sourcing site that stood the test of time is IDES.com, which is now part of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. The focus is on technical and sourcing data for plastics, additives and other materials.