Kae Faeff, founder of online marketplace ItsCollected.com, discusses the potential benefits of a genuine online platform for waste managers, but the industry has been slow to unlock the online potential… CIWM Journal Online Exclusive
We are all familiar with online marketplaces such as ebay or Amazon and the vast majority of us probably use them on a fairly regular basis to make informed and competitive purchases. The basis for their success lies in their ability to benefit both the consumer and the retailer. The purchaser of course benefits from increased choice and immediacy whilst those providing products and services benefit from direct access to a targeted and engaged market, which is generally in ‘buy mode’.
Online markets work across a range of sectors. An airline operator who has capacity on particular flights can retail these seats through an online platform such as Expedia for example, as well as via their own website and existing sales channels such as agents and brokers. On these platforms passengers wanting to travel to a particular destination will see the price and details of the seats that the operator has available, together with those from a range of other airlines that also have capacity on that route. This enables the consumer to make an informed decision. Likewise most estate agents will use websites such as Rightmove or Zoopla as an additional channel to market their vendors’ properties to targeted purchasers.
For those wanting to buy or sell recycling services however the options are slightly more limited. As a waste producer I do have few options available to me. I can see who they are using next door; I can go online and get a list of phone numbers to call; or I could wait until a sales person turns up at my door and trust that they will give me the right service at a competitive price. The result is either a purchase made with limited information or choice or the decision to embark upon a time-consuming quote collection exercise from a number of individual companies. A genuine online marketplace has the potential to provide information from a range of sources resulting in better choice for those wanting to procure recycling services, whilst also benefiting those responsible for managing this material in a sustainable and compliant manner.
Place Your Bids
An online marketplace enables waste producers to list waste which needs managing by location and type and for this to then be made visible to pre-registered waste managers who have defined their service area and desired materials. These waste managers will then be given the opportunity to bid for the work. The waste producer will see details of all the bids they receive allowing them to choose their preferred service provider not only by price, but also factoring in other criteria such as reputation and broader capability.
The cost of managing waste is ultimately determined by the cost of transport and the gate fee for processing that material. Whilst the use of logistics software and on-vehicle technology has certainly improved efficiency, this has often not been matched with investment in sales and marketing systems capable generating more targeted opportunities. The result is a continued reliance on labour intensive and inefficient cold calling, which tends to generate work where it arises and not necessarily where it is needed.
An online marketplace will provide a highly efficient additional route to market for waste managers providing qualified and targeted prospects. This will be particularly useful when companies are looking to infill existing routes, grow business in new geographies or launch new services. It will also provide a useful tool for brokers looking for service providers in a particular area with specific capabilities as well as for those providing a national service who may often need to subcontract an element of that work
The development costs and skill sets required to unlock the online potential have meant that the waste and recycling sector has been relatively slow in its uptake. I believe however that our appetite and expectation to do business online will ultimately be no different for the waste and recycling sector. Its ability to optimise and open markets whilst also streamlining the sales process will undoubtedly lead to an accelerated uptake in the future.