e-Revolution Continues at Bricks and Clicks

GM unveils procurement site for dealers, BOC adds Web services capabilities

Tempe, AZ  June 24, 2002  The dot-com revolution failed to drive so-called brick-and-mortar companies out of the market, but it did spur old-line manufacturers into getting online and transforming themselves into "bricks-and-clicks."

Two recent announcements illustrate this point, with the first coming out of Detroit, where General Motors unveiled a procurement Web site intended to generate cost savings for GM dealers by allowing them to take advantage of the automaker's substantial purchasing power.

Dealers who subscribe to GM Dealer Supply Advantage will access the site via an external link through GM DealerWorld, an Internet portal used by all GM dealerships. Once in GM Dealer Supply Advantage, dealers can access an e-marketplace hosted by auto industry market site Covisint to purchase office supplies and other commodities and products from a variety of suppliers.

"Dealerships spend a substantial amount per year on maintenance, repair and operating supplies, forms and other supplies," said Bill Lovejoy, GM group vice president for vehicle sales, service and marketing. "The idea behind GM Dealer Supply Advantage is to reduce these costs by providing a wide selection of products and services to GM dealers all in one efficient marketplace."

Lovejoy said the Web site would provide GM dealers with prices that are based on aggregated GM purchasing volumes and would help the dealers to become more competitive by reducing their costs.

Kevin English, CEO of Covisint, seconded this view, saying, "The synergy created by bringing suppliers together in one marketplace will enable GM dealers to lower costs and increase the efficiency of their supply planning, ultimately saving time and money."

The ultimate goal, as Lovejoy admitted, is to increase sales of GM automobiles. "In the end, we believe that GM Dealer Supply Advantage will enable our dealers to offer consumers more value at the point of transaction, resulting in better customer satisfaction and higher overall sales," said Lovejoy.

GM, which was the only one of the Big Three automakers to post a profit in 2001, expects Dealer Supply Advantage to be available for use by its dealers beginning in late June.

Dealers will be able to subscribe to the site through Reynolds and Reynolds, an information services provider that is offering solutions to the auto industry. Through the GM site, dealers will also be able to access ReySource, Reynolds and Reynolds' online procurement site.

Meanwhile, in Murray Hill, N.J., gas giant BOC launched Arrowhead2, a new Web services-enabled capability that the company said will allow its customers to manage their industrial gases products from order to payment to replenishment.

Arrowhead2 expands on BOC's previous gases management tool, Arrowhead1, which offers ordering, inventory management, internal chargeback and supplier management of cylinders and related industrial gases products. Arrowhead2 adds support for Web services standards such as simple object access protocol, or SOAP, which allows dynamic application-to-application content sharing between multiple sources of information.

Fulton Wilcox, director of technology business development at BOC, said the addition of Web services to BOC's e-services lineup addresses a key challenge in B2B e-business these days: content management. "Adding Web services capability allows Arrowhead 2 to tie into customer, exchange and supplier content and supplier information sources," Wilcox explained. "For example, a Web services 'SOAP call' lets Arrowhead2 tap into a BOC special gases 'Thesaurus,' resulting in a quick retrieval of useful information."

"BOC Arrowhead1 helps our larger customers streamline their supply chain," asserted Brian Walsh, president of BOC Industrial and Special Products, North America. "The launch of Arrowhead2 means these and other customers can benefit further from BOC's continued use of the latest technology standards."

As with Arrowhead1, Arrowhead2 enables customers to implement Internet ordering from suppliers using the Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) process model. Arrowhead2 is offered as a hosted service, with BOC acting as the application services provider.

BOC already offers a range of e-business services, including Internet ordering, electronic access to quality assurance data, automatic supplier replenishment through vendor managed inventory, remote tank monitoring, on-line plant configuration and process design tools and expertise.

The BOC Group is a worldwide provider of industrial gases, vacuum technologies and distribution services. The company's sales topped $6 billion in 2001.