B2B exchanges were expected to revolutionise the way organisations bought goods from suppliers, offering substantial cost and time savings, but many have fallen by the wayside in the past two years
The WWRE, which now has 62 members including Tesco, Kingfisher and Marks & Spencer, has survived because it has adapted to changing market conditions and listened to feedback from users, said James Williams, director of negotiations and auctions at the exchange.
"In the early days auctions were all about price. But buyers are becoming more sophisticated taking other factors into consideration, such as terms, quality and delivery timescales. Companies are still reaping the financial benefits though - every single member has achieved savings."
Initial auctions tended to be for goods not for resale - such as office supplies and sanitary products - but this has also changed.
"More than half of the goods that are purchased through our auctions are for re-sale," said Williams. "People are making great savings with supply chain rationalisation - when they were buying the same goods from a number of different suppliers."
The WWRE recently upgraded its auction software to adapt to these different demands, rolling out the IBM WebSphere-based ezMarket application from supplier Digital Union, to replace the incumbent Ariba tool.
"Digital Union's multidimensional auction tool allows buyers to focus on key purchasing factors other than price, giving the buying company a true sense of the total cost of ownership," said Williams.
Joining WWRE does not represent a burden for the IT department from the retailer or manufacturer, Williams added. "We operate an ASP [application service provider] model, so there is no integration with other systems - all you need is a browser.
"There is nothing downloaded on to the client, all the information is stored on the server."