One of the biggest disruptions facing the gases industry of today – and tomorrow – is the rise of e-commerce. Laced with uncertainty and yet almost inevitable, it challenges decades of known-how in the industry.
The industrial gases business is very traditional in how it operates, based upon strong cultural and organisational paradigms. It’s still very customer-facing – the behaviours, interactions and relationships in the industry are still very personal in nature. Despite being an increasingly globalised business, and ever-growing, the gases industry is also still inherently local in nature; product is still largely sold, supplied or serviced as close to the customer as possible, often based on local knowledge and rapport.
As a result, e-commerce essentially challenges that business model, that culture, within our industry. In the US, for example, there is much discussion about the inevitability of e-commerce and a hardgoods sector under increasing pressure from many emerging channel options in the supply chain – the great majority of which are being driven by e-commerce. Industrial gas and welding distributors are having to be more aware, more resilient and more creative in their commitment to both ends of the supply chain, allying the undeniable value in their personal relationships with customers and suppliers with an openness to digital sales platforms.
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