B2X Trading Platform Streamlines China Supply Chains for Smaller Companies

Users can cut some of the red tape and trouble by browsing product costs, specs, keywords and quotes.

NEW YORK - Global importer B2X is targeting small-to-mid-sized retail enterprises with a new online trading platform designed to streamline the process of sourcing products from China. The platform was announced Feb. 17 at the 2008 Toy Fair in New York.

"Sourcing from China is a paper-intensive, heavily regulated process," said Joe Sorisi, CEO of B2X. "A lot of individuals and companies need to get involved, and small-to-mid-sized players sacrifice margin to get product through a robust supply chain."

Sorisi said that using a platform including technologies from SAP and Oracle, as well as a front-end IBM WebSphere Commerce portal, B2X can enable buyers to see thousands of Chinese products in an online database and then create fully landed cost quotes.

"This makes it easier for small-to-mid-sized retailers to take advantage of soft sourcing opportunities in China," said Sorisi. "The trading platform gives information and allows buyers to browse product costs and keywords, access product specifications, get quotes for multiple product lines and save those quotes for 30 days."

Sorisi said that the platform also features a patented design lab service that allows buyers to make their own product modifications, submit them to the B2X procurement group and obtain quotes. In addition, he said a patented international importing trading matrix informs buyers of what size container their order will ship in, depending on order size.

B2X serves as wholesaler of record for transactions conducted on its platform, according to Sorisi, and negotiates with buyers for the Chinese manufacturers it represents. The company has access to approximately 10,000 base products from thousands of Chinese factories, he said.

"We want to put tools back on the table for mom-and-pops to compete," said Sorisi.

Bryan Jensen, vice president of business development for supply chain engineering and consulting firm St. Onge Company, analyzed the benefits that U.S. toy retailers could obtain from the B2X platform as an example of its functionality.

"Sourcing from China poses the classic risk of time-to-market to toy retailers," said Jensen. "It causes a generally greater amount of inventory. You can't not source from China and be competitive [as a toy retailer]."

Jensen said that toy retailers also face a huge demand peak in the fourth quarter, while manufacturers keep their production flat.

"You must buy early and forward and guess right," he said. "You don't want to overcommit too early and [also] don't want to be shut out of hot toys and disappoint your customers."

While large toy retailers have built proprietary systems to source from China, where the U.S. toy industry obtains more than 99 percent of its product, Jensen said that smaller retailers, in particular online niche players who sell collectible items, could benefit from the type of service B2X offers.

"It provides connectivity to a necessary overseas source," he said.

Key technologies used in the B2X technology platform include an IBM Websphere-based online transaction portal, a custom IBM-powered order management system, an SAP financial system, EC Vision and ERP system support for supply chain management, a custom-designed product management and classification system, an Oracle 10g, 2 node RAC database application, and a Tridion Web content management solution, all running on a Linux OS.