BENS Consulting is a chemical regulatory consulting firm. What motivated you to participate in the sales and marketing toolbox conference?
The first reason was that my colleague attended the Chemtoolbox conference in 2019. She enjoyed the conference very much and warmly recommended that we should participate.
The second reason is more business related. As you’ve said, regulatory (and) compliance consulting is our core business. While we help our clients sell chemicals in more than 40 countries, we also enable them to develop safe, sustainable, and compliant chemical products faster and easier than they ever imagined. This also means that we work with many chemical companies in all stages of the value chain: from basic chemical manufacturers, distributors, and producers of chemicals, to downstream users and even retailers. So this really gives us valuable insight into the whole vertical process of the chemical industry and its challenges.
And I see the function of sales and marketing in two directions. First, in being more in touch with clients and thus recognizing and understanding customers’ needs and challenges. And second, focusing on helping them overcome these challenges faster and more efficiently due to the possibilities digitalization has to offer to sales and marketing teams.
Interesting. Now, what do you believe are their main challenges?
Besides the current situation with increasing costs and the availability of raw materials, producers of chemicals also face increasing requirements regarding sustainability, developing less hazardous chemicals, and compliance with customers’ and market requirements. An unstable market situation requires them to rethink and modify formulations and reorganize their processes to consume fewer resources.
Specifically, if a producer of paints and coatings cannot get a specific raw material, they have to find an alternative fast and reformulate their products. This is a challenging task, especially with specialty raw materials. Even finding suitable commodity materials can sometimes be a tough challenge because it can affect products’ hazard classification and even compliance. And if a product is not compliant with the customer’s requirements, they will not be able to sell it.
There are many aspects that producers must observe to keep their products on the market. And it will not get any easier over time but rather more complex.
Looking from your perspective, are there any solutions for this situation? What can the industry do about it?
When looking for a solution, you first must identify the root cause of the problem. But to find the root cause, you have to understand the industry. And the chemical industry is very specific.
In the chemical industry, customers buy various ingredients from multiple suppliers to develop new formulations and products. Therefore, reliable and accurate data and information from suppliers are vital for the planning of safe, sustainable, compliant, and competitive formulations.
The root cause of the problem is the way the data is exchanged through the supply chain. Information on substances, raw materials, and intermediates is exchanged in the form of PDF files – in an analog way! Not digital.
In other words: while we need more and more data to make faster and more informed decisions, we still exchange “paper” documents instead of data.
So, to accelerate the flow of data and information through the supply chain, the industry needs to digitize its building blocks first.
Learning from our customers, we have developed a digital platform that facilitates the entire process – from digitizing materials to using data to develop safe, sustainable, compliant, and competitive formulations online. In addition, we added regulatory tools that use the same data to help producers and downstream users meet regulatory requirements.
How is this relevant to sales and marketing professionals in the chemical industry?
Data is the key to success.
Our unique digital platform, Allchemist, brings supply and demand to the same digital environment.
Essentially, Allchemist is an advanced industry-specific product information management (PIM) system containing comprehensive technical, regulatory, and compliance data. In addition, it incorporates a safety data sheet and technical data sheet authoring tools for chemical companies to keep all the data and information harmonized in one place.
But the most unique feature of Allchemist is the digital lab. The data from the PIM database can be directly used for creating and assessing formulations – in terms of safety, sustainability, compliance, and competitiveness.
The digital lab offers suppliers of raw materials numerous new opportunities. They can use it to offer their customers a customized digital lab experience or for the development of their own formulations that can be shared with their customers, like you share documents in Google drive.
What are the benefits of the implementation of your platform in companies? Are there any particular success stories that demonstrate these benefits?
Of course. There are many success stories of using our platform in practice.
However, we are most proud of the research that was conducted with Allchemist as a technical enabler platform and published in a peer-reviewed article1. A group of researchers investigated the implementation of the digital sales channel in the coatings industry. The research showed that the digitally formatted sales process could be shortened by up to 32% with the use of such a digital platform. In other words, it can substantially reduce sales cycles in the chemical industry.
Once again, this proves that digitalization can bring immense benefits to our industry. But there is no shortcuts. Digitalization is only possible by digitizing building blocks – and abandoning “paper” (=PDF) documents to exchange data. And from that point on, new opportunities and new services will emerge.