Two online auction companies are looking to enable enterprises to incorporate into their online buying the sophisticated buying strategies that they have long used offline.
WayBid Technologies Inc. and Bid.com Inc. are delivering new services that enable public and private auctions and exchanges to give buyers access to a broader range of goods, through unified views of multiple auctions, and the capability to weigh multiple criteria when evaluating bids for goods.
Startup WayBid last week launched its Dynamic Pricing Network software, which links multiple e-marketplaces and auctions, thereby exposing each ones goods to a much larger pool of potential buyers.
When a company lists an item for sale on an exchange that uses DPN, that item is automatically listed on all of the other sites with which that exchange has a relationship. Once someone makes a bid on the item, the bid is immediately propagated to the other exchanges.
Although the goods are listed on several marketplaces, the seller pays only one commission.
The result is that sellers reach a much wider audience, buyers have access to a broader range of goods on which to bid, and the exchanges increase their traffic.
"Right now, the exchanges just arent working as well as they could," said Peter Trevisani, CEO of New York-based WayBid. "Theres going to be a need in the future for people to go outside of their single exchanges so that theyre not dependent on one relationship."
The announcement this month that Ventro Corp. will shut down Chemdex and Promedix, two prominent vertical exchanges, underscored that point. Any company dependent on one of those marketplaces for much of its supplies was suddenly left to cast about for a new source.
"The real advantage [of WayBid] is that it lets me tap into so many different channels that we otherwise couldnt reach," said Felix Rodriguez, used equipment and export manager at United Rentals Inc., a WayBid customer based in Greenwich, Conn. Rodriguez doubts his company will do more than a small portion of its business-to-business sales through online auctions. "Theyre a nice complement to traditional auctions, but some people still like to kick the tires on what theyre buying," he said.
For its part, Bid.com, based in Toronto, is coming at the challenge of making the online procurement process more efficient from a different angle. Its Dyn@mic Buyer offering, which the company launched last month, is a Web-based service that enables buyers to evaluate responses to requests for quotations, or RFQs, using a number of criteria beyond just price.
For example, a company looking to buy 300 desktop computers can send out an RFQ and then evaluate the responses by comparing them with a predetermined set of criteria that the company sets up. Each attribute—such as price, delivery time or after-sale support—is assigned a value, and the buyer can then select the proposals with the highest overall values.
The system is designed so that a buyer can also send a second RFQ to a short list of finalists, who see how they stand in the bidding in relation to the others, said Jim Moskos, president of Bid.coms technology group.
"Companies looking to buy things with specific, nonmonetary parameters can then put pressure on all of the aspects of the proposal, not just price," Moskos said.