Greased Enlightening

In a slick development, lubricants move online

Houston  August 27, 2001  Making commerce frictionless is one of the promises of the Internet. After all, products and data flow so much easier through a browser than through the office and U.S.mail systems. So it follows that commerce that deals with lubricants would be doubly frictionless. Being slippery, in this instance, is a good thing. (It's not good when describing your senator.)

Conoco has introduced the first real-time, online procurement program designed for lubricant distributors in the United States. The procurement program is a feature of the lubricants extranet called DistributorNet.

"DistributorNet is a fully functional Web site allowing all its distributors to place real-time orders from a product catalogue of over 1200 stock keeping units (SKUs)," said Jennie Baker, Conoco's manager, finished lubricants. "We selected DistributorNet because we believe it will make it easier for our important strategic partners, our lubricant distributors, to do business with us."

One of the most valuable benefits of the site is real-time information on in-stock warehouse availability of all Conoco lubricant products. When ordering online, a distributor will know the dates when ordered products are available and be able to track weight and volume of the complete order to aid in making more economical and efficient shipping decisions.

"Available to Promise (ATP) inventory information can drive business efficiency, especially when dealing with thousands of items. Conoco's innovative application of SAP's ATP technology is a clear differentiator in the lubricants distribution," said Dennis Gooden, vice president for the oil and gas industry at SAP.

The new system is designed to provide faster, more efficient ordering for all distributors, regardless of location. Once online, distributors may monitor the status of all of their previous lubricant orders. Also, all past financial information is online, including history of electronic fund transfers, invoices and credit card statements.

"The distributors who use our online ordering procedure really like the convenience," commented R. Bradley Borg, Web master for Conoco lubricants. "They can place an order from anywhere in the world."

The site has undergone extensive testing and now all Conoco lubricant distributors with an Internet connection and a password can have access to DistributorNet. "Currently over 75 percent of all Conoco lubricant distributors are online, and we believe that percentage will increase as they discover the efficiency of this ordering system," said Kim Hawkins, Conoco Lubricants business project lead.

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